In a response to the policy update announced last week by the Department of Health and Human Services, the church leaders said the policy offers “second-class status to our first-class institutions in Catholic health care, Catholic education and Catholic charities.”

“Because the stakes are so high, we will not cease from our effort to assure that healthcare for all does not mean freedom for few,” Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the conference, said in a statement. “We will continue to stand united with brother bishops, religious institutions, and individual citizens who seek redress in the courts for as long as this is necessary.”

Although the bishops identified the changes as a step in the right direction, they made it clear that they were not satisfied.

The proposed guidelines would allow religious-affiliated organizations opposing contraception to opt out of a federal mandate requiring that they provide their employees with insurance coverage for birth control.

The policy would give women at non-profit, religious-based organizations, like certain hospitals and universities, the ability to receive contraception through separate health policies at no charge.