As Republicans in Congress pledged Wednesday to pass legislation blocking the White House's rule that all health-insurance -- including those offered by Catholic employers -- cover birth control, Democrat U.S. Sen. Bob Casey called on the president to reverse the rule and Republican U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta took to the House floor to condemn it.
In a letter to President Obama on Friday, Casey, who is Catholic and pro life, wrote that it was the "wrong decision."
"I have strongly supported efforts to provide greater access to contraception and I also believe, just as strongly, that religiously-affiliated organizations like hospitals and universities should not be compelled by our Federal government to purchase insurance policies that violate their religious and moral convictions. Finally, I believe that these two objectives do not have to be mutually exclusive. Reasonable people can find common ground on this issue, and I am happy to work with your Administration to achieve that objective," Casey wrote. Read the full letter here.
But Casey has come short of saying he'd sign on to legislation blocking the rule. He told NBC News, “There’s a way to do this, and not run afoul of the religious freedoms that I think an institution should be able to exercise. I think we can get this balance right … It means working out a compromise that makes sense to everybody.”
Meanwhile Barletta gave a speech in Congress Wednesday, saying the decision makes Catholics feel like outsiders and that "no one should have to choose between their God and their government."
"People of all faiths should be outraged by this decision," he said. "If this administration can trample over the beliefs and rights of American Catholics, those of other religions should ask, 'Are we next?' "
Women's rights groups are pushing back. In an interview with Reuters: Susan Wood, a health professor at George Washington University's Jacobs Institute ofWomen's Health, said religious groups should have no more control over what employees do with their insurance than with their salaries.
And the White House isn't backing down, At the daily press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama understood the sensitivity of the issue and takes the concerns seriously, but is "committed to implementing a policy that will ensure that women across the country, no matter where they work, will have access to the same health care coverage and the same preventive care services, including contraception."