Contraception controversy heating up in southeast Wisconsin

WTMJ News Team

Contraception controversy heating up in southeast Wisconsin

CREATED Feb. 8, 2012 - UPDATED: Feb. 8, 2012

MILWAUKEE- A contraception controversy is heating up.  Should employers, including religious groups, be forced to provide free birth control?

It's a growing conflict among Catholics.  The church teaches them contraceptives are wrong, but the Obama Administration is telling them religious institutions must cover contraceptives free of charge for their employees. 

Churches are exempt.

"If they are a Catholic organization I don't think you can really force their hand on that, they have a right to their beliefs," said Carol Ann Gumina, who is a Catholic.

Milwaukee Democrat Gwen Moore defended the president's policy in Congress and went after those who disagreed.

"No one is trying to take away religious freedom," said Rep. Moore.  "The concept of separation of church and state does not mean a church can use their bully pulpit to separate millions of women from critical health care benefits."

It's a major conflict for Catholic organizations like Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, which doesn't cover contraceptives for its 10,000 employees in Southeast Wisconsin.  They told TODAY'S TMJ4, "we were extremely disappointed with the decision."

Marquette University says it does provide coverage through a co-pay.

Unless it changes, church leaders will continue to speak out.

"Here you are forcing somebody to go against their own beliefs to pay for something they don't believe in," said Fr. Karl Voelker, S.J., the pastor of Gesu Church in downtown Milwaukee.

"Last Friday [Obama] took away conscience protections," said Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, (R-WI).  "We have to make sure that is reversed this year."