The Obama administration has chosen to ignore the First Amendment and add insult to injury for Catholics whose schools, hospitals and charities help make this nation great. Now the real fight begins.

Religious leaders had feared the worst from Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and her Department of Health and Human Services, which since September has been considering whether to exempt Catholic and other religious employers from a regulation mandating insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including some that cause abortion.

But on Friday afternoon, Sebelius announced the bad news in the most offensive way possible. Refusing even the smallest compromise with religious employers, she simply gave them an extra year to comply with the law.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration, including the important concerns some have raised about religious liberty,” Sebelius wrote in a brief statement from HHS. “I believe this proposal strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious freedom and increasing access to important preventive services.”

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