(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.
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Agreed. If you dont want abortions, then you BETTER supply birth control of ALL KINDS.
typical answer from a far left wing,big government eastern liberal...
Separation of church and state requires that religion not be even mentioned in legislation, let alone given favoritism. No "faith-based initiatives". No exemptions from taxes, ADA requirements, or any other laws of the land. The government has no business deciding which people and which organizations qualify for a "religious" exemption. Responsibility to abide by all laws applies to all employers, property owners, and employees without distinction as to their ostensible religious affiliations.
Separation of church & state is not a war against religion. Religion is a war on reason. Putting faith ahead of reason is, by definition, unreasonable. By definition.
again, if the Catholics don't like the rules, they can stop taking federal money period. Go it alone just like the church.
Why in the world would any reasonable demorcrat expect a republican to listen to logic? Usually it is just during election years that they plug their ears and stick out their tongues while making childish noises, but these last 3 years have been different.. they need to defeat Obama... listening to sound logic can not be tolerated.
I am one Independent, Catholic woman who voted for President Obama who is now quite angry with this health policy. The "slippery slope" that my mother warned about appears to be happening. This is total disrespect and disregard for religious differences. President Obama should not take my vote for granted this fall. And I am very sad to say this.
This is a hard one. On one hand the Government wants a uniform law on all heathcare providers. On the other hand it's certainly understandable that religious groups can't go along with a policy that violates their religious beliefs. Of course the easy solution would be not to use heathcare that you don't believe in if it violates your religious beliefs....Everyone should be happy. right? No because this is more about right wing politics than anything else...
Non-Catholic employees of these employers have a right to access to birth control. Women have a right to a choice not dictated by old white men who want to move backward to more submissive times so they can retain their power to protect priests who abuse children.