February 5th, 2012
01:23 PM ET
2 years ago

O’Malley: ‘Too much hyperventilating’ over contraception controversy

(CNN) - Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley of Maryland said Sunday that critics of a new federal health policy are overreacting to a statute that requires religious institutions to pay for contraceptives in their health insurance plans.

“There has been a little bit too much hyperventilating over this issue,” O’Malley said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The new U.S. Department of Health and Human Services policy stirred an outcry this week, as it requires all employers - including religious institutions - to cover contraceptives such as the birth control pill and the so-called Plan B pill.

While churches are exempt, hospitals and schools with religious affiliations must comply. The new policy goes into effect on August 1, but religious groups will have a year-long extension to enforce the rule.

Catholics, whose teaching opposes abortion and the use of contraceptives, have especially railed against the plan.

Several Catholic clergy members have denounced the policy from the pulpit, while on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich used it as a heavy attack line against President Barack Obama, saying the president has “declared war on religious freedom.”

But O’Malley, who identified himself as a Catholic, noted Sunday that 28 states already enforce such a policy.

“This is not about abortion, it's about covering contraception as part of the health care coverage - mandatory basic coverage,” O’Malley told CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley.

He noted some European states with high Catholic populations have also mandated the coverage.

“These same rules apply in countries like Italy, which have overwhelming numbers of Catholics, and yet we did not see the reaction in those countries to these sorts of things,” he said.

The White House stood by the policy this week after House Speaker John Boehner said it violated the Constitution.

“This decision was made after very careful consideration of the legal and policy points and we believe it strikes the appropriate balance between respecting religious beliefs and approving access to services,” a senior administration official told reporters on a conference call Thursday afternoon.

Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, who also appeared on the CNN program, argued the policy was a “great expansion of federal government” and disrespected “individual religious views.”

Saying the policy would lead to “visceral negative reaction” against the Obama administration, McDonnell suggested more Catholic voters may swing to the GOP in November’s presidential election in response to the new policy.

– CNN's Ashley Killough contributed to this report.

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Robrob

    “declared war on religious freedom.” = their "freedom" to deprive their employees of the medical care they desire?

    February 5, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  2. Lizzie

    "He noted some European states with high Catholic populations have also mandated the coverage." are we Europe, that's where we are heading, debt, government takeover of all parts of our lifes, throw out the constitution, this is what this is all about.

    February 5, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  3. enuff

    Good grief. it's not like the government is saying that anyone is being forced to use the contraception. They are saying that it must be covered by insurance if they CHOOSE to use it.

    February 5, 2012 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  4. Karl Jonas

    Get a grip McDonnell. How is this going to shift Catholic voters' views when 97% of American Catholic women have used birth control?

    February 5, 2012 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  5. manhandler

    Hey, McDonnel....Most Catholic voters use contraception. But go ahead with your pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking about driving them to the GOP.

    February 5, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  6. GI Joe

    If the catholics don't want birth control, don't buy it.

    They are stepping on the rights of the women who are NOT catholic who work for them.

    Like I said -- the republicans want to control and limit women's rights. (Women aren't humans, you know). Bet they pay for Cialis and Viagra!

    February 5, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  7. dantheman

    Well, if it's OK in Italy, then the Catholic Church should be fine with it here. Makes no sense eh?

    February 5, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. commonesnes

    Excommunicate O'Malley along with Pelosi. The so called Catholic countries O'Malley cites have an abysmal rate of church going. Many of the so called Catholics in those countries are Catholic In Name Only. The Catholic Church will never agree to spend its money or that of its affiliates to pay for things which are a direct violation of its teachings on the right to life and its preeminent importance. The Catholic Church's positions on contraceptives and abortion are direct consequences of its positon on the preeminence of life. Rationalization by CINO's doesn't change the Church's position or make contraception or abortion any more acceptable.

    February 5, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  9. juliebear

    just because you work for a Catholic school doesn't mean you dont want contraception and basic family planning services. Isn't it about the individual consumer and not the larger organization making unilateral decisions? Why dont you ask the users of the healthcare plan what they want? If they dont want or need it, they wont use it. Contraception is not abortion! It can help LIMIT abortions!

    February 5, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  10. GI Joe

    Does this mean that ALL people will be required to follow the POPE??

    February 5, 2012 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  11. Sally

    This is so pathetic! If I was an administrator who worked in a hospital associated with the Catholic Church, I would be denied basic medical coverage due to the beliefs of my employer? What if they believed in praying away diseases and no medication at all- would I not get any coverage? All they have to do is provide it.. devout Catholics will not take advantage of this because it is against their beliefs, which I am fine with- but at least those of us who do want access to contraceptives, will not have to pay full price. I can't believe there is even debate over this. Are these hospitals etc., not in America?? How can they deny fundamental coverage?

    February 5, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  12. Connie

    Many Catholics already use some form of contraception. They use the pill so what is the big deal. Someone needs to ask the Catholic public office candidates if they or their spouses use or have used any type of contraceptive measures in their lifetime. I would say one half to three quarters would say they have use the pill to prevent contraception. You don't approve abortions but without contraceptive measures there would be many more abortions, unwanted or disadvantaged children in this world. Also, with the Republicans wanting to cut funding to social programs, will there even be money available to assist the families when they fall below the poverty line?

    February 5, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    He's correct. It's about time America stepped into the modern world instead of clinging to the past like some of the other Catholic-influenced countries.

    February 5, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  14. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    These GOBP yahoos want to outlaw contraceptives . They are radical extremists

    February 5, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  15. vic , nashville ,tn

    First we have to understand definition for Pro-life ( where when life begin)
    Pro-life can’t dominate individual liberty
    Religion can’t control individual liberty

    February 5, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. To much hyperventilating?

    This energizes the social conservative base. I'm sure they are going to let this slide. I'm an atheist and I think this way over the line at what government should be dictating. This one won't help the democrats any.

    February 5, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. Len

    I doubt that an overwhelming number of Catholics would vote for the GOP canidate over contraception.....Many use contraception in their private lives. I am sure many other people in other religions (Evangelical and others) also use contraception methods!

    February 5, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. lps

    I have a feeling Bob McDonnell may be right about this controversy. How many Christian Hospitals are there in America?

    February 5, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. Tray in STL

    Humm what is the fear here it the teaching is that you don't take contraceptives then they wont! Or is the big deal here that some have the habit of speaking for others and now here is a tool that if again someone of their own free will ask for the the contraceptives someone will be made out to be wrong or just flat out lairs!

    February 5, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  20. Nothing new here

    Considering that many Catholics can, and do, use some form of birth control – I think this is a moot point at best.

    February 5, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Jon

    How about we make athiests pay for religious training? It would be the same as making faith based groups pay for contraception

    February 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  22. AK_steve

    Italy may have the same type of coverage, but they don't have the same kind of Catholics.Italy has the classic, level headed and seeped in history kind of Catholic. We just have reactionary wacko's.

    February 5, 2012 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  23. ddblah

    Funny, has anybody forced them to take contraceptives?

    February 5, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Debbie

    I want government out of my religion and I want religion out of my government. The Catholic Church is not my religion nor do I want the Catholic Church to be my theocratic government nor do I want any religion telling me what I can and can't do in my bedroom. If the Catholic Church or religious right don't like abortion, sex, birth control, when personhood begins etc then they should move to a country/government that is oppossed. Vatican City is a theocracy, or several Muslim countries are available.

    February 5, 2012 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  25. lgny

    The fundamental question here is: Does the health insurance belong to the employee or the employer?

    For years HR managers have described health insurance as part of the employee's total compensation package:
    a. I get some payment in cash.
    b. I choose to take some payment in health spending accounts.
    c. I get some payment in subsidized health insurance.
    d. I get some payment in retirement funds (deferred compensation).

    The point here is that health insurance is NOT a gift. It's something that I've earned through my hard work.

    AHCA (Obamacare) makes health insurance my responsibility since I can be fined if I don't obtain insurance by one means or another.

    There are long standing privacy laws that assure that my employer is not informed of the specific care that I receive from the health insurance. This particularly applies to STD, AIDS, mental health, and cancer treatments.

    So, if it's my insurance with the employer simply acting as a bundler to get gain more favorable pricing, then I should be entitled to use it to obtain any medical care that is legal and professionally appropriate. The employer should NOT be setting restrictions on what care may be obtained via the insurance.

    It is no more appropriate for the Catholic Church to forbid the purchase of birth control via medical insurance than it is through health spending accounts, or from the money in my wallet - all of which ultimately came from my employer.

    February 5, 2012 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
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