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U.S. Senator Gillibrand & Bishops react to President's compromise on birth control coverage

US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responds to President Obama's change to birth control health care provision
WBFO News photo by Jim Pastrick
US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand responds to President Obama's change to birth control health care provision

 President Barack Obama announced Friday that he is backing off a requirement for church-affiliated employers to provide free birth control coverage. 

President Obama issued a compromise  in what he described as protecting religious liberties while also making sure women have access to free contraception.  Instead, employees of those institutions will be able to get free contraception directly from health insurance companies.

In Buffalo Friday morning, local reporters asked U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand about provisions of the Affordable Care Act that conflict with the Catholic Church's stance on birth control.

"I think he has reached that fair balance.  I thought the balance he had before was reasonable as well. As you know, over 300 institutions were already exempt so they don't have to follow it at all," said Gillibrand. I think the President tried very hard to make sure he reached the goal that all American women have access to affordable medicine affordable birth control."

Gillibrand visited the Olmstead Center for Sight on Main Street, where she spoke to students at the Statler Center and addressed members of the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership on job creation.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued its response to President Obama's announcement:

USCCB sees initial opportunities in preserving the principle of religious freedom after President Obama’s announcement today. But the Conference continues to express concerns. “While there may be an openness to respond to some of our concerns, we reserve judgment on the details until we have them,” said Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of USCCB.

“The past three weeks have witnessed a remarkable unity of Americans from all religions or none at all worried about the erosion of religious freedom and governmental intrusion into issues of faith and morals,” he said.

“Today’s decision to revise how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable to religious entities and people of faith is a first step in the right direction,” Cardinal-designate Dolan said. “We hope to work with the Administration to guarantee that Americans’ consciences and our religious freedom are not harmed by these regulations.”

The USCCB statement is fully-endorsed by Bishop Edward U. Kmiec, and will serve as the statement of the Diocese of Buffalo.  The diocese will not have any further public comment on this issue until the U.S. bishops have examined the details of the president’s proposal.