(CNN) – Mitt Romney on Monday became the latest GOP presidential candidate to blast the Obama administration for new rules that would force all hospitals –including those run by the Catholic church– to provide workers health insurance that covers contraception, including sterilization.
A page on Romney's website asks supporters to sign a petition protesting "the Obama administration's attacks on religious liberty," saying the new rules amounted to an assault on personal rights.
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"The Obama administration is at it again," Romney's website said. "They are now using Obamacare to impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away."
The new policy from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stirred an outcry this week, as it requires all employers' health insurance – including religious institutions – to cover contraceptives such as the birth control pill and the so-called Plan B pill, as well as more permanent contraceptive procedures like sterilization.
While churches are exempt, hospitals and schools with religious affiliations must comply. The new policy goes into effect August 1, but religious groups will have a year-long extension to enforce the rule.
Catholic teaching opposes abortion and the use of contraceptives, though a 2011 study by the Guttmacher Institute showed 98% of sexually active Catholic women had used contraception.
President Barack Obama's reelection campaign pushed back on the criticism from Romney, pointing to Romney's refusal when governor of Massachusetts to exempt Catholic hospitals from providing emergency contraception to rape victims.
"Mitt Romney continues to show that he will do or say anything to get elected," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said. "He is even attacking the President for providing women with the same access to contraception and preventive health care services that he did as Governor of Massachusetts. And now, in an effort to pander to the most conservative parts of the Republican base, he has embraced the extreme personhood amendment, which would ban many forms of birth control, including birth control pills. This sends a clear message to women across America: Mitt Romney can't be trusted and his hypocrisy knows no bounds."
Romney's campaign pointed to the candidate's original veto of the bill which required hospitals to provide rape victims with emergency contraception. His veto was ultimately overridden by the state legislature.
"The governor's position on this law was that it never should have gone into effect in the first place, which is why he vetoed it," Romney spokesman Andrea Saul said.
Two Catholic presidential candidates, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, have spoken out against the new rules.
Speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," Gingrich said the new rules amounted to a "war on the Catholic Church."
Gingrich continued, "Every time you turn around, secular government is closing in on and shrinking the right of religious liberty in America, and I think there are millions of people who are very disturbed by that."
Santorum, speaking in Minnesota Monday, said the rules were a direct violation of American Catholic First Amendment rights.
"It is not just an assault on the First Amendment freedom of conscience, but the First Amendment freedom of speech," Santorum said. "This is the danger when government controls things. They can control how you exercise those rights and they can control your access to information about those rights."
- CNN’s Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
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Most Catholics use birth control.
Mitt.. I don't think banning birth control is going to help you get the important independent voters.
God bless the blessed, for thee blessed seem to think they know all about all....Especially what is best for all the rest!
if most catholic women have used contraceptive which they are against then they're hypocrites like the gop party
Phil in KC hit the nail on the head. Stop taking government money.
Will someone PLEASE take away Truth's computer privileges. His/her constant repeating of the inaccurate Republican talking points is really getting annoying. It would make sense if you actually understood what you were talking about before repeating falsehoods. As Rachel Maddow and another political talking-head stated this weekend on "Meet the Press," if the Catholic Church wants to carry out the functions of an insurance company, it must operate under the same rules. If it does not want to abide by the rules that are imposed upon all insurance providers, it needs to get out of the business. Pure and simple.
hehe mormons practice poligamy i guess matt is the prophet.Hehehe you see the problem with the average idiots in this country is that they cant even think untill their head are up in their a***s.
OBAMA -BIDEN 2012
Is Obama losing the Catholic vote? Yes, yes he is ~ he is not protecting our religious freedom. What's next?
Thank You President Obama for making sure that Catholic run businesses that accept billions of dollars in tax dollars through their corporate interests have to follow the same rules as everyone else. Thank you for preventing them from forcing their religion onto their secular employees. They have no problem covering STDs or other treatments that also go against their preachings, so they hold no moral high ground, they just want to continue to try to hold women down.
It's not taking away people's rights – it's offering women the SAME medical care as those who do not work for a religious employer. Are you saying that you've NEVER used ANY means of birth control? Making birth control available to women does not take away anyone's right to religious freedom. If the women choose not to use it, that's fine. No one is FORCING them to use it.
This is an issue of religious and individual freedom. Is the Catholic Church going to be allowed to dictate the religious beliefs of the folks who work for organizations it controls? I know they would rather save their money to spend on getting priestly pedophiles out of trouble, but they owe it to their employees to provide the same access to health care as other workers get.
Just another way for Churches to be exempt from having to pay for ANYTHING. Just as communities have to pick up the tab for their exempt status & that also makes the average family pay $1,000.00 more in extra taxes for lost revenue, why should they pay??? Do they even look at the statistics showing all the Catholic women on birth control? Not church approved birth control we're talking here. I am a proud atheist & I do not like the fact that I have to pay more in taxes for the church not having to pay their part. So.. I would like to make my extra taxes paid to go for birth control.
yea, I really don't think the Catholic Church is in any position to tell anyone else how they should live their lives – remember all those priests abusing little boys that went on for decades?