WASHINGTON, February 1, 2012 ( – The White House has dismissed the nationwide uproar by Catholic bishops and faithful opposing the administration’s birth control mandate, claiming there are no “constitutional rights issues” with the new health insurer rules.

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was asked by a reporter during a press briefing Tuesday about the mandate, which would force religious hospitals and universities to offer health insurance to employees that fully pays for sterilizations and contraception, including abortifacients such as the emergency contraception drug Ella.

Carney said the question “misrepresents” the mandate and that the new rule, announced by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius this summer, “strikes the appropriate balance” between religious freedom and access to “the preventive services that [women] require.”


When pressed on the constitutional right to religious freedom, Carney replied, “I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here,” and repeated that the administration “will continue to work with religious groups” to discuss their concerns. 

Carney also claimed that “this approach does not signal any change at all in the administration’s policy on conscience protections.”

“The President and this administration have previously expressed strong support for existing conscience protections, including those relating to health care providers.  That support continues.”

To date 131 Catholic bishops heading U.S. dioceses have spoken out against the mandate after the Sebelius announced last month that religious groups objecting to the mandate would be given one year to comply. Many leaders of other denominations and religions have also spoken out against the mandate.

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