Free birth control divides Dems; lawsuits filed - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Free birth control divides Dems; lawsuits filed

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Democrats are deeply divided over President Barack Obama's new rule that religious schools and hospitals must provide insurance for free birth control to their employees.

Facing intense pressure, the White House has indicated that it is trying to come up with a compromise.

But Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Catholic, is calling the rule unacceptable and un-American.

Another Catholic senator, Democrat Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, is pleading with the administration to, in his words, "correct this decision which will erode the conscience rights."

Several Democrats, including Senate candidate Tim Kaine in Virginia and Illinois congressman Dan Lipinski, have assailed the administration mandate.

At the same time, some female Democratic lawmakers have backed the administration for supporting women's health with the new rule.

Meantime, A Roman Catholic broadcasting network is suing the Obama administration overs its mandate that religious organizations pay for their workers' birth control coverage.

The lawsuit, filed Thursday by the nonprofit EWTN Global Catholic Network, claims the policy is unconstitutional because it would require the broadcaster to violate church principles on the sanctity of life or pay fines of $600,000 a year.

Network president Michael Warsaw says EWTN had to sue because it would be forced to use donors' contributions to pay for morally objectionable health services including contraception, sterilization and abortion drugs.

EWTN spokeswoman Michelle Johnson says the Alabama-based network employs 340 people, 135 of them women.

Lawsuits to block the contraceptive mandate also have been filed by a Catholic college and a Protestant university.

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