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Catholics urged to write Congress on birth control rule


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(Reuters) - Catholic clergy on Sunday called on the faithful to write Congress to protest new birth control rules from President Barack Obama's administration, stepping up a campaign that began a week ago with denunciations from the pulpit at Masses across the country.

The fight is over a provision of the health reform law announced on Jan 20 that would require health insurance plans -- including those offered by institutions such as Catholic-affiliated hospitals and universities -- to offer free birth control including sterilization.

Republican presidential candidates New Gingrich and Rick Santorum seized on the issue on Sunday television talk shows, criticizing the Obama administration as misguided and anti-Catholic.

"He (Obama) has basically declared war on the Catholic Church," Gingrich said on "Meet The Press" Sunday.

Asked if the contraceptives issue would rebound on Obama in the election, Gingrich said: "I think there are millions of people who are very disturbed by it."

Conservative columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in the Wall Street Journal this week that the contraception ruling could lose Obama the election because the Catholic vote is concentrated in battleground states.

The White House defended the policy, saying that only institutions such as hospitals that service a large non-Catholic community would have to offer free birth control. The administration also said the availability of birth control would reduce the number of abortions.

While polls show a large majority of U.S. Catholics ignore church teaching against contraceptives, Catholic clergy were outraged by the Obama ruling, viewing it as forcing Catholic hospitals and other services to skirt church doctrine.



Obama's idea of separation of church and state: The church will do what the state tells it to do.

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