ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Cardinal Edward Egan has called for the passage of women's health legislation that would exempt church-related employers from providing contraceptive coverage.
In pressing his case, Egan dismissed surveys that have found the many Roman Catholic women use contraceptives despite church teachings against the practice.
''The issue is whether or not the employer has to provide that type of insurance,'' Egan said. ''What the employee does is a matter of conscience.''
Egan's comments came as the newly installed cardinal, leader of New York's 2.4 million Catholics, made his inaugural lobbying trip to the state capital.
Earlier, a dozen Protestant and Jewish religious leaders lobbied against the ''conscience clause'' in the women's health bill that the cardinal supports.
The clause would allow an employer with a religious association, such as the Catholic Church, not to cover birth control if doing so would violate its religious views.
''This is a matter of justice for women,'' said the Rev. Tom Davis, a retired minister from Saratoga Springs who led a coalition of opponents. The group said the clause would allow an employer to legally discriminate against women.
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