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President Obama does not exempt religious institutions from contraception mandate

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - It's a national mandate that's having a local impact.

Now, most employers across the country will have to pick up the cost of birth control in their health insurance plans.  It's part of President Obama's move to cover contraceptive services for female employees.

The rules exempt churches and synagogues, but not Catholic hospitals, universities and charitable organizations.

“Whether Obamacare has the right to say what the Catholic church does,” said Claire Krueger,  “I’m not sure that…that’s completely fair.”

And that's the feeling of most leaders in the Catholic church.

"It's an unprecedented attack that has not happened, certainly, not in my life time,” said Father Gregory Gresko, Mother Mary of the Church Abbey.

Father Gregory calls the Contraception Exemption a violation of religious freedoms.  And believes the constitutional rights of the Catholic church must be protected.

"It provides a great quandry for us, because we want to provide good healthcare for all of those people who are employed in our institutions,” said Father Gregory.  “But we can't provide things that are considered immoral in the teachings of the church."

Father Gregory says Catholic leaders will fight to have the contraceptive law reversed.

"We have an obligation as clergy to preach the truth,"  he said.

And while pro-life advocates like Naral applaud the Obama administration's decision, one Richmond resident tells CBS 6, the government should not dictate which business gets healthcare.

"That's saying that working for anyone is different from anyone else.  But if you still have like a superior.  And you're still provided some type of health care through the employer, I don't see a difference,” said Krueger.

Most employers will have until August of 2012 to meet the rules.  But religious-affiliated nonprofits will have until 2013 to comply.

We’re waiting to hear from the Attorney General’s office to see if they plan to take action against the new legislation.