Ramping up the pressure, a worldwide Catholic broadcasting network based in Alabama filed a lawsuit Thursday against the administration over the policy. The suit, filed by the nonprofit EWTN Global Catholic Network, claims the rules are unconstitutional because they would require the broadcaster to violate church principles on the sanctity of life.
"This is a moment when EWTN, as a Catholic organization, has to step up and say that enough is enough," said Michael Warsaw, the network's president. "Our hope is that our lawsuit does just that."
Among Democrats, Manchin and Casey are in line with their church's leaders and holding fast to their religious beliefs. Yet in West Virginia, the senator still has faced criticism from the Republican Party on the issue.
Frustration among some Democrats dates to early December when Casey, Manchin and several other moderate House and Senate lawmakers participated in a conference call with senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett. The lawmakers voiced their reservations but made no headway with Jarrett, who thanked them for their opinions, according to congressional aides who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.
Internally at the White House, Biden, then-Chief of Staff Bill Daley and deputy national security adviser Denis McDonough, all Catholics, raised concerns about how the administration proceeded on the policy. On the other side, senior White House advisers Nancy-Ann DeParle, Pete Rouse and David Plouffe argued for the need to ensure coverage for all without exception, as a matter of women's health and fairness.
Three Democratic senators — Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, Patty Murray of Washington state and Boxer — pressed for making birth control coverage widely available.
The discussions were described by administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private talks.
Associated Press writers Ben Feller, Erica Werner, Jim Kuhnhenn and Alan Fram in Washington and Jay Reeves in Birmingham, Ala., contributed to this report.
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