He added that religious owners of for-profit businesses are given no relief from the mandate at all. They are required to provide the coverage, even if they object, and could face potentially crippling fines if they refuse.
"I don't buy the government's attempt to discriminate between a non-profit and a for-profit," he said. "They're trying to turn it into a status protection, rather than a protection of religious exercise."
"The easy way to resolve this would have been to exempt sincere religious employers completely, as the Constitution requires," he argued. "Instead this issue will have to be decided in court."
Brian Walsh, executive director of the American Religious Freedom Program at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, also voiced concerns over the finalized regulation.
"The administration continues to refuse to include in its mandate the sort of robust exemptions that have been understood since the founding of this nation to be necessary to protect religious liberty," he told CNA.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. bishops' conference, explained in a statement shortly after the finalized mandate was released that the 110-page regulation is "complex" and will require "careful analysis" by the bishops before a response can be issued.
Cardinal Dolan had previously stressed the importance of religious liberty for all people, including owners of for-profit businesses.
"In obedience to our Judeo-Christian heritage, we have consistently taught our people to live their lives during the week to reflect the same beliefs that they proclaim on the Sabbath," he said in a February analysis. "We cannot now abandon them to be forced to violate their morally well-informed consciences."
Lawyers for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reaffirmed this point in March, stating in a document that "(t)he identity of the person or group having the religious freedom objection should not matter; what should matter instead is whether the person or group faces government coercion to violate conscience."