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Obama vs. the bishops

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A lot of people are speaking for Catholics these days. Over the past several weeks, there’s been a great deal of brouhaha surrounding the Obama administration’s decision to require that religious employers who have health insurance plans cover birth control.

On Friday, the bishops gave off positive signals, when Obama offered a compromise allowing hospitals and universities with religious affiliations to not directly provide birth control coverage; instead, the insurance companies would do it.

This week, the bishops stepped up pressure on the White House.

Listen to this conversation on Eight Forty-Eight

120216 contraception.mp3

Since the Chicago area has a host of Catholic institutions--Loyola University and Medical Center, DePaul University, Resurrection Health Care, Holy Cross Hospital, to name just a few--we wanted to find out how this debate is playing out locally.

We called up Patrick Cacchione, the executive director of the Illinois Catholic Health Association, who says his members fully support the bishops’ position. The state of Illinois already requires institutions with religious affiliations to cover birth control. It allows exemptions only when the employers insure their personnel. According to Cacchione, Catholic hospitals use this workaround, in order to comply with Catholic beliefs.

He’ll come on Eight Forty-Eight to explain why he thinks the federal mandate is a violation of religious freedom. Cristina Traina, a Northwestern University professor of religious studies, will look at the broad spectrum of Catholic opinion, including the 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women who admit to having used some form of contraception.

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