Religious groups back birth-control mandate

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"We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services," the groups said. "The administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care."

The White House policy requires employers' healthcare plans to cover contraception without charging a co-pay. Churches are exempt, but other religiously affiliated institutions, such as Catholic hospitals and universities, are not.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has called the policy unconstitutional, and he pressed his criticism during a floor speech Wednesday.