RHINELANDER - The contraceptive rule in President Barack Obama's health care reform law has sparked an on-going debate between politicians, religious leaders, and women's rights groups.
When President Obama announced contraceptives would be included in required preventative healthcare coverage by all employers, Cardinal Timothy Dolan lead Catholic Bishops in protest.
"Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience," says Cardinal Dolan.
After weeks of pressure the President revised the rule.
"Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly," says President Obama.
But the rule does still require the institution's insurance to offer contraceptives.
"All it's doing is saying, 'Well the insurance company has to now provide it'. Well in essence the Catholic Church is still paying for the insurance," says Representative Sean Duffy.
"Although it looked like a compromise to some extent, it does not really respect fully religious liberty. Because indirectly employers will have to pay eventually," says Father Tom Thakadipuram, the Priest at Nativity of Our Lord Parish.
The rule does exempt churches, but almost nothing else including religiously affiliated hospitals or charities. Father Tom says the revision is a good start, but he agrees with Cardinal Dolan that the rule as it stands is unacceptable.
"I would like to see a broader exemption because of the principals of religious liberty at stake," says Father Tom.
But supporters of the contraception rule aren't happy about how GOP leaders are going about opposing it.
"It seems that women are always fair game when there are hot-button issues," says Nancy Meier, from Merrill.
Last week the GOP held a hearing regarding contraceptives. Supporters of the rule pointed out the panel included religious leaders, but left someone else out.
"Imagine having a panel on women's health, and not having any women on the panel," says Representative Nancy Pelosi.
As this issue is likely to continue to be hotly debated, Father Tom hopes both sides can find common ground.
"As religious leaders and as political leaders we need to embrace the virtue of the middle. I think that is the way for the country to go forward," says Father Tom.
Congress is expected to vote soon on legislation to block the President's policy.
LAND O' LAKES - Kids in Land O' Lakes will play cartoon characters discussing their life during a play Friday. Organizers hope this helps them to show their artistic side.
You can expect to hear great sounds at Land O' Lakes Elementary School Friday. Kids from ages 6 to 14 have been learning about the art of performance this summer. They'll play cartoon characters discussing their life on a talk show.
"It's been really amazing to come to the theatre program the last two years. The first year we probably had 60, 70 people. Last year we had 100 people come to the recital," said Land O Lakes Area Artisans treasurer Lynn Richie.
NORTHWOODS - It seems more all-natural and specialty food stores are popping up around the Northwoods. Antigo and Three Lakes welcomed new all-natural and specialty food stores this year. And last week, Eagle River welcomed one, as well.
"We were painstaking about finding things that you cannot find at other shops here in the Eagle River area," said Homeward Bound Specialty Foods owner Patti Katz Black. She and her husband, Dave, opened their Eagle River store last week.
HAWKINS - You could face challenges trying to get kids to sit down and read during summer. But kids in Hawkins believe they're doing more than reading this summer. It's all part of a country wide theme called Fizz, Boom, Read.
"The whole idea is to get kids excited about reading, to keep them coming to the library to check out great books, and hopefully have some happy teachers at the end of the summer," says Hawkins Library Director Arlene Mabie.
MOLE LAKE - Health workers often face different challenges on the Sokaogon Chippewa reservation in Mole Lake compared to elsewhere in the Northwoods.
"I think they're a little different. We have a (few) more challenges. Sometimes, for a lot of people, it's more crisis than prevention, or preventative services," said Tammy Queen, who works at the Sokaogon Chippewa Health Clinic. "A lot of times, they'll come in when something's bad instead of coming in before something gets really bad."
On Thursday, the tribe wanted to get people thinking about their health before problems occur.
ANTIGO - Just a few months ago, the Moore Family was looking for a new affordable home. They filled out paperwork with the local Habitat for Humanity chapter in Langlade County and were told yes.
"We look for a number of things; we look for an identified need, and the need for housing if the current housing is not serving the family's needs," said Langlade Habitat for Humanity President Paul Grinde.
For the home to become theirs, the Moore's must put in 500 sweat-equity hours divided between themselves and volunteers. Leaders say it doesn't matter what set of skills you have, all you need to do is donate a little bit of your time.
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