D-Day for Freedom? Birth Control Mandate Takes Effect

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WASHINGTON -- Starting Wednesday every business owner in America who offers health insurance to his or her employees must now include what the Obama administration calls preventive services for women.

Such services include free access to all government-approved birth control methods like "the pill," sterilization, and the morning after pill.

The problem is many employers don't include contraceptives in their insurance plans because they have a religious or a moral objection to them. Now, under the new government requirement, they don't have a choice.

"I think people have the right to not be forced to pay for things that they're opposed to," Dr. John Brehany, executive director of the Catholic Medical Association, said.

Jim Nicholson, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, shared his thoughts on the implications of the new birth control mandate, on CBN News Morning News, Aug. 1. Click play for his comments following Jennifer Wishon's report.

When the federal mandate was announced in January, U.S. Catholic bishops, leading evangelicals, and numerous religious groups quickly objected. Several organizations sued, including Wheaton College, a Christian liberal arts school in Illinois.

"We think that the government is out of accord with fundamental principles of the United States Constitution, which affect our ability as a Christian college to carry out our religious mission," Wheaton College President Philip Ryken said.

As the controversy exploded, the Obama administration announced what it called a fix. Employees of religiously affiliated organizations can buy contraceptives directly from their insurance provider....so their employers wouldn't have to be involved.

Opponents say it's just a smokescreen, but the Obama administration is pressing forward.

"I can tell you that we're moving forward to implement this important rule that will ensure that women across the country have access to preventive services," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.

Although for-profit businesses now have to begin complying with the law, non-profit religious organizations have until next August to comply with the rule.

Opponents hope either the courts or a new administration will put an end to the mandate before then.

"I have every expectation that additional evangelical institutions -- colleges, universities, and other institutions -- will also be filing suit by the end of the summer," Ryken said.

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Jennifer Wishon

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.