fight; though the bishops opposed his overhaul, other prominent voices in the church supported him on the grounds that extending coverage to more Americans furthered social justice.
So the administration may well have believed that opposition to expanded contraceptive coverage would be muted, said Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of Network, a national Catholic social-justice lobbying group. "You could say they miscalculated," she said.
Indeed, several groups that supported Obama's general health-care goals have issued biting statements opposing the new mandate. "The administration got focused on the substance and missed the higher-level issue of conscience," said Campbell.
For Casillas, the ob/gyn in southern California, that issue of conscience is paramount. It doesn't violate his conscience to prescribe birth control - but he knows other Catholics have a different take. "I want to preserve their ability to maintain their moral compass," he said.
Catholics who continue to back Obama despite their dismay at the contraception mandate say they'll urge voters to consider all of the president's policies, not just this one ruling.
That tactic worked in 2008, when Catholics for Obama put out radio ads and booklets arguing that Obama's policies on aiding the poor and ending the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were in line with Catholic social justice teachings - and made him a moral choice for president, despite his support for legal abortion.
The president seemed to be laying the groundwork for a repeat of that campaign when he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast last week. He told the crowd of religious leaders that many of his policies, including his call for the wealthy to pay more in taxes, sprang from Biblical teaching. "For me as a Christian," Obama said, the proposed tax hike "coincides with Jesus's teaching that 'for unto whom much is given, much shall be required.'"
It's unclear how well that tactic will play in this election, after the latest furor. "The Obama campaign went out of its way in 2008 to court Catholics," said Stephen Schneck, a political scientist at the Catholic University of America who has advised the president on outreach. "This could be messing all that up." (Reporting By Stephanie Simon in Denver; Additional reporting by Lily Kuo in Washington; Editing by Claudia Parsons)