Catholic Leader Says Contraception Rule Strangles Religious Freedom Despite Protections For Religious Organizations

Cardinal Timothy Dolan defended the lawsuits that 43 Catholic-affiliated organizations, including the University of Notre Dame, have filed against the Obama administration’s contraception regulation to expand coverage at no additional cost to employees. On CBS’ This Morning, he told hosts Charlie Rose and Erica Hill that the regulation was “strangling” religious freedom even with the accommodations given to religious organizations:

DOLAN: What we’re worried about now is the exemption given to the churches is so strangling and is so narrow. […] It’s that exemption, it’s the straight-jacketing, handcuffing exemption that we find to be very dangerous.

ROSE: So if the president said, I’ve tried to compromise here, I’m suggesting we let insurers pay for contraception. That’s not far enough for you?

DOLAN: That’s rather superficial […] It still gives no attention to these choking mandates, this choking definition of religion that we find to be so strangling.

Watch Dolan’s comments here:

Under the new contraception rule, insurance companies will be required to provide the coverage directly to the employees and the employer will not pay for it if a nonprofit religiously affiliated organization like a Catholic college or hospital objects to offering birth control. In addition, the organizations may delay for a year before the contraception coverage begins, and for organizations like Catholic hospitals that are self-insured, third-party administrators or another independent entity will provide the contraception coverage.

By calling the accommodations “strangling,” Dolan ignores how the administration has already addressed their concerns about religious liberty while also ensuring that women can still receive accessible, affordable contraception. Most Catholics disagree with Dolan’s and church leaders’ continuing opposition to the contraception rule, but Dolan would rather pick a fight than work toward finding a reasonable solution.