Leaders of American Catholics are threatening to challenge the Obama administration over a provision of the new health care law that would require all employers, including religious institutions, to pay for birth control.

Observers say this issue could decide the presidential elections.

Catholic leaders are furious and determined to harness the voting power of the nation’s 70 million Catholic voters to stop a controversial provision of President Barack Obama’s new heath car reform law.

The provision will force Catholic schools, hospitals and charities to provide employee health  insurance coverage that will cover birth control pills, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization treatments.

All those things go against Catholic beliefs and teachings.

“Never before, unprecedented in American history, for the federal government to line up against the Roman Catholic Church,” said Catholic League head Bill Donohue.

Donohue said Catholic officials will stop at nothing to put a stop to it.  “This is going to be fought out with lawsuits, with court decisions, and, dare I say it, maybe even in the streets.”

Pro-choice groups say they will fight the church for the right of  employees of Catholic institutions to have birth control and other services paid for.

National Abortion Rights Action League President Andrea Miller says “The Catholic hierarchy seems to be playing a cynical game of chicken and they don’t seem to care that the health and well being of millions of American woman are what’s at stake here.”

President Obama apparently doesn't realize that he may have handed his opponents the issue that will get  him defeated in November.  Catholics are a big portion of the independent vote and about 27 percent of the overall electorate.  They are concentrated in swing states.

This confrontation is spilling over into the military. It's reported that the Obama White House is instructing telling Catholic chaplains to NOT talk about this issue in their pulpits.