Catholic bishops and contraception

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- It may soon be up to the courts to decide the outcome of a growing rift between the Roman Catholic Church and the Obama administration.

At issue is an edict from Health and Human Services that requires all employers, including the Catholic Church, to provide health insurance, including contraceptives, sterilization and the so called “morning after” pill.

Phoenix Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmsted is among a number of other prelates across the country who say the decree amounts to an “assault” on religious freedom.

Ron Johnson of the Arizona Catholic Conference says a number of bishops, including Olmsted, are trying to determine in which court they should file lawsuits challenging the order. It is part of the mandatory health insurance plan that is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

Already, Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney is courting disgruntled Catholic voters.

Political consultant Barry Dill thinks the former Massachusetts governor should tread lightly. He says when Romney was governor, Massachusetts had a similar provision as part of the Commonwealth's health-care plan.

Many national polls show a substantial majority of the Catholic laity are supportive of contraceptives.

Still, Dill believes the White House will make overtures to try and reach a suitable compromise with the bishops because of the high percentage of Catholic voters in battleground states such as Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Colorado.