(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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The employer (Catholic church) PAYS for the benefit, which violates their religious beliefs. Benefit plans include and exclude all sorts of treatments. This should be no different. If employees don't like the benefit plan, then they can work someplace else.
Suggesting that people go work someplace else is absurd. What if the person who carries the health plan is a devout Catholic, but the policy holder needs to cover someone who does not live with them? And, what if that person is not a devout Catholic? And what if not providing that person with medical care would be a violation of a court order? And what if not providing that care could cause the person to die, which would leave the policy holder subject to criminal prosecution?
I don't think conservatives have thought this fully through. All that they can see is "me, me, me".
He has obviously lost all connection with intelligent reality. He will go down in flames, as he should.
I agree that forcing hospitals to offer coverage which covers contraception is an attack on religious freedom, and I'm a pro-choice, atheist libertarian.
@ Rudy NYC – No one is saying anything about forcing a person to have an abortion. The outcry is over pro-life religious organization being forced to cover pro-choice medical options – and, in essence, being force to pay for something they don't support.
No, conservative media is making a false argument. They are, in fact, arguing that Catholic hospitals are being forced to provide abortions and et cetera, which is patently false. The candidates, by being in agreement with media by opposing the policy, are simply echoing the misleading arguments without giving actual voice to them.
There goes Mittens Flip Flopping again he never stops. I didn't know it was possible to talk out of both sides of your mouth and your a$$ at the same time but Mittens is very good at it. Sorry Mr Money Bags but you are never going to President even if you can buy the election.
I can't understand at all this group of GOP contenders. They are the ones who are complaining a lot are on food stamps, high level number of people are unemployed, and yet they still want the population to rise by going against contraceptives. For god's sake, is 300 million not a big number? They are doing irreparable damage to the entire nation.
>Where is it the federal government's job to dictate what private organizations MUST offer in terms of benefits???
You still didn't answer the question Rudy! Ducked it as usual!! Does Obamacare give the federal government the power to dictate to private organizations and businesses what their benefit plans MUST contain???
BIRTH CONTROL IS BETTER THAN ABORTION. WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?
This is republican BS...o.k,
Get over it. It is the law.
The only thing more scary than Miit as president is Mitt as president with a mandate. More panderous words for the religious right to hear. Come on America–think, I know you can.
Also, he looks like a televangelist in this picture–one more scary thing....
@SUSAN: I am sorry for you because you live in a world that is full of laws that you have to follow whether you like it or not. The Catholic Church is all about keeping the woman down. I bet Viagra flows freely in the Vatican and now with record snows they are all probably doing each other.
And what about women who need the pill for other reproductive/hormonal diseases such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome? PCOS prevents a woman from menstrating so birth control pills are used to cleanse the uterus and keep it healthy
Some of the comments and ideas the Reps. are voicing have become so ignorant and anti women that they are no longer worth commenting about.
Let's face it... liberals are all about forcing OTHERS to pay for THEIR beliefs. After all people, it really isn't YOUR money in their eyes... it is the property of the collective to do with as the collective wishes. Individuals, or in this case, the church, has no rights. Hopefully the USSC rules on this and reverses it. More oppressive government overreach in the affairs of individuals and private organizations.
I wonder if Willard read from his trashy bible this a.m. ? You know – the one that refers to me as a "filthy animal". Does he REALLY think he has a chance to call himself MY president with these beliefs? I think the American voters are going to REJECT him completely in November and I plan to be BIG part of that movement.
The Catholic Church should welcome this mandate as an opportunity for the faithful to demonstrate that they will adhere to the Church's teachings even when alternatives are freely available at little to no cost. Does the Church have so little faith in its' own congregants and the persuasiveness of its interpretation of the Gospel? Doctrine that cannot stand the test of Free Will is already dead and rotten.
There are many more millions who are not. And this particular example of infringing on religious liberty? Requiring an employer based insurance plan to cover certain prescription drugs for their employees that choose to use them. Terrible. Just Terrible. Just keep speading the fear and hate Newt, it's working well for you so far.
There is nothing within the ruling that states someone must receive contraceptives...
A devout Catholic can easily choose not to get contraceptives if that is their choice.
Furthermore, Catholic CHURCHES are exempt.
But there are plenty of non-Catholics that work to serve the sick at Catholic hospitals, and plenty of non-Catholic teachers that educate children and Catholic schools. Those people have a right to have access to legal medical care.
This isn't that difficult.
Just because the insurance covers the cost, it doesn't mean that the employees have to engage in any contraception whatsoever. Ironically, this wouldn't be an issue, except that for decades, insurance companies have refused to cover the cost of contraceptives in their benefit plans-–not for religious reasons, but just because they were trying to avoid paying for benefits.
No insurance carrier should cover birth control unless pregnancy will be life threatening. If you want contraception...pay for it your self.
"We simply cannot let them destroy the best healthcare system on the planet in order to further their leftist agenda."
You have obviously never been outside of the US. The US healthcare system lags behind many, many countries in almost all metrics.
Unless you meant "best healthcare system for insurance company profit", in that case you would be correct.
When Mittens, Santorum, and all the elected republican men give birth themselves, they should not make any reproductive rules.
nobody's forcing anyone to use these services, just for insurance to cover it. it will come down to an individual's decision. i wish insurance would cover psychiatric care for some of the people on here...