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Jan Crawford: Religious Objection to Contraception Mandate 'Could Scale Back' ObamaCare

On Wednesday's CBS This Morning, Jan Crawford zeroed in how President Obama "has got another fight on his hands" over the Supreme Court case challenging the federal government's controversial ObamaCare abortifacients and contraceptive mandate, just as "his administration is trying to get that website up and running."

Crawford pointed out that this "legal battle in the Supreme Court could scale back some of what he was trying to accomplish with the law in the first place." She also underlined that "all this comes as many Americans are feeling forced into this law." [MP3 audio available here; video below]

Substitute anchor Jeff Glor trumpeted the "the fight over religious freedom" as he previewed the correspondent's report. Minutes later, anchor Norah O'Donnell led into Crawford's segment by noting that "White House officials fear a crush of new users will crash the health care website this weekend. The administration promised the website would be fixed by this weekend." O'Donnell continued that "the health care law faces another challenge. The Supreme Court is agreeing to take up two cases, and they involve companies refusing contraception benefits for workers based on religious beliefs."

The CBS journalist began with her "another fight on his hands" line, and wasted little time before playing two soundbites from Andy Newland, who owns of one of the companies that challenged the ObamaCare mandate in federal court. She then gave some background on the impending Supreme Court case:

JAN CRAWFORD: It was just over a year ago that the Supreme Court narrowly upheld a provision at the heart of the law: the requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty. Now, the Court will take up a more emotional challenge. It's been brewing across the country, as dozens of employers filed lawsuits objecting to the birth control requirement in ObamaCare as violating their religious freedom.

Crawford provided the other side of the debate by playing two clips from liberal Representative Diana DeGette, who asserts that "for-profit corporations don't have religious rights", and claims that the Affordable Cart Act "exempts religious groups and organizations from those same requirements". However, DeGette glossed over the fact that two religious employers – Catholic TV network EWTN and the Little Sisters of the Poor religious community – have both critciized this exemption as being too narrow.

Near the end of the segment, the CBS correspondent emphasized that "the problem for the Obama administration is that all this comes as many Americans are feeling forced into this law. And now, you've got these religious employers saying the law is forcing them to violate their deeply-held beliefs."

The full transcript of Jan Crawford's report from Wednesday's CBS This Morning:

NORAH O'DONNELL: Now to the latest struggles for ObamaCare – this morning, White House officials fear a crush of new users will crash the health care website this weekend. The administration promised the website would be fixed by this weekend.

Now, the health care law faces another challenge. The Supreme Court is agreeing to take up two cases, and they involve companies refusing contraception benefits for workers based on religious beliefs.

Jan Crawford is in Washington, and covers the Supreme Court. Jan, good morning.

JAN CRAWFORD: Well, good morning, Norah and Jeff. You know, for the past couple of months, the President's been defending the Affordable Care Act in the court of public opinion, as his administration is trying to get that website up and running. But now, he has got another fight on his hands, and this one – another legal battle in the Supreme Court – could scale back some of what he was trying to accomplish with the law in the first place.

[CBS News Graphic: "Contraception Case: High Court To Hear Religious ObamaCare Objection"]

CRAWFORD (voice-over): It's the next volley in the fight over the health care reform law. Can the federal government force business owners, like Andy Newland, to provide insurance coverage that violates their religious beliefs?

ANDY NEWLAND, HERCULES INDUSTRIES PRESIDENT: What's at stake is the religious freedom of – of Americans. That's plain and simple.

CRAWFORD: Newland, president of a family-owned manufacturing business, says no, and he's looking to the Supreme Court to rule that employers who oppose abortion shouldn't have to offer insurance for all contraceptives, like the morning-after pill.

NEWLAND: What's never been required of businesses in the history of our country is – is a strong infringement upon our ability to live our faith.

CRAWFORD: It was just over a year ago that the Supreme Court narrowly upheld a provision at the heart of the law: the requirement that all Americans buy insurance or pay a penalty. Now, the Court will take up a more emotional challenge. It's been brewing across the country, as dozens of employers filed lawsuits objecting to the birth control requirement in ObamaCare as violating their religious freedom. But women's rights groups say the cases are about equality and reproductive freedom.

[CBS News Graphic: "Employer Lawsuits: -Object to birth control requirement; -Violates religious freedom"]

REP. DIANA DEGETTE, (D), COLORADO: If you start allowing private employers to refuse to cover things they don't like, then that would open the door to almost anything.

CRAWFORD: Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette of Colorado says for-profit corporations don't have religious rights. She points out that the law exempts religious groups and organizations from those same requirements, but businesses are different.

DEGETTE: These are for-profit corporations, and they should have to give health insurance to their employees for their employees' health care concerns – not for the employer's moral judgments.

CRAWFORD (on-camera): Now, most of these employers say they are going to provide some contraceptive coverage – like, say, birth control pills, but not those contraceptives that they think are like abortion, like the morning-after pill. But the problem for the Obama administration is that all this comes as many Americans are feeling forced into this law. And now, you've got these religious employers saying the law is forcing them to violate their deeply-held beliefs. Jeff and Norah?

JEFF GLOR: Jan Crawford, thank you.

— Matthew Balan is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center. Follow Matthew Balan on Twitter.