(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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Dear GOP....... Please get out of my uterus and stay out!
Hey, "Mr Truth and Nothing But the Truth".....Rudy from NYC has a very nicely explained scenario...and all you have is your generic ramblings against a party. You'll need to express yourself with facts if you want to convince anyone of anything. Nice job Rudy.
Catholics, of which I used to be one, terminating babies terrible, fondling babies okay
"This is what happens when you let radical leftists pass 2000 page legislation that nobody was allowed to read."
lol, this from a poster with the name Truth and Nothing But the Truth, too funny.
"Susan – I don't get how liberal minded people enjoy being controlled by more laws, more regulations and big brother getting into their everyday affairs."
I dont get how people moan over being able to have access to health care benefits they dont currently get, as if it is some great evil.
Well let's just apply these standards to the general population shall we; who's for ignoring the bans on controlled substances and believes we should smoke'em if we got'em? Who's in favor of ignoring traffic regulations so your local teens can haul ass around town and have a good old time? And here's a good one, why don't we all just send letters to the IRS saying how much we oppose these tax bill and how much we intend to pay? Are only conservatives free to bend or break the laws they disapprove?
What a bunch of self righteous hypocrits the Republicans are. They oppose abortions, then turn around and vehemently opposes any attempt to provide affordable birth control to poor women. If you are poor in this country you are absolutely screwed by the republican party.
If Romney thinks the birth control ruling is an abrogation of religious freedom, why isn't he campaigning on a pro-polygamy platform? The law of the land is infringing Mormon religious freedom by not allowing it!
I understand that the Catholic Church wants to deny employees birth control through health insurance because it sees birth control, abortion, etc. as against the teachings and beliefs of the church. However, this postion does not recognize that all employees are not Catholic and even if they are, they may practice birth control with contraception. The supporters will cry that the government is imposing on the church...separation of church and state! The answer for the church is simple, don't accept federal money as all Catholic hospitals do. As a taxpayer, I would rather there be a clean separation with no public funds going to any church supported agency–schools or hospital. I don't like the idea of my money going to the kind of discrimination the church supports.
Why are the men in the GOP so intimidated by women?
What's the problem? I'm a lapsed Catholic, but like my currently active Catholic sisters, I used artificial birth control all of my reproductive years. So do all of my Catholic nieces. 98% of Catholic women have at some point in their lives, as the article says. The rule doesn't state that contraceptives will be forced on women; just that they can be available to them and at a very negligable price or even free. Considering that they can be expensive, just because a bunch of stuffy church fathers who've never had to worry about getting pregnant don't approve of it, doesn't mean many Catholic women aren't jumping for joy. Catholic Church hospitals take in federal medical programs like Medicare, don't they? Maybe we ought to just stop doing that if they're going to get pizzy about government getting into church business.
Then make the churches and all these protesters cover the costs of all the babies born because of no birth control.
How did birth control become an issue for middle-aged men? You don't hear women candidates calling for a ban on "unnatural" and "unGodly" Viagra, do you?
how dare the government require me to provide medical insurance for procedures my faith tells me i shouldn't use?
everyone with religious faith should be protesting this!
...AND the military, because thou shalt not kill is in the commandments!
...the Amish should be protesting ANY tax dollar used for technology!
...Hindus should be protesting ANY subsidies going to cattle farming!
...yup, reason is a wonderful thing
Tax exempt status = following the rules of that which grants such status.
What part of the right-wing republicans telling The Big Lie again do you people Not understand? They claim they want the government out of our lives, yet everything they do is based on religion controlling the government. GOP lied again! We don’t need or want a theocracy in America, be it Christian, Muslim or Mormon.
The Republican mantra rings true for all. We are for your rights as long as you play by our rules and if we get elected will make them laws of the land....
No one is FORCING these people to use birth control!!!! Shut up Mitt. You and the Teapublicans are useless!!!
More insane rightwing radical religious wars. Those poor phony "christians" are just soooo oppressed. Someone call them a waaaaaahmbulance.
i think that Mitt is a leftover prop from the movie "Westworld"
@ Susan. On the other hand, the organizations force their beliefs to all employees. Just as I don't want the gov in my religion I don't want my employer in my religion either. We are not talking about a handful of people in a mom and pop store. With a quick review there are thousands of hospitals run by the Catholic Church so an employee may not be able to easily make the choice to not work for them. I have seen polls from 50 to 75% of American Catholics disagreeing with the Vatican and this particular topic is one of the key points. Is it truly religious freedom if it is dictated through my insurance coverage instead of my faith?
"truth and nothing but the truth", I wish to vent my dissapproval of tax dollars supporting all of the churchs of this country by means of tax exempt status, "chairtable" giving and free publicity through the media. You and your church's denial of woman's rights throughout time has been one of the biggest crimes against humanity in history, not to mention the rape of children! Had your group not killed millions during the crusades, inquisition, witch hunts, etc., and jailed and killed the greatest minds of the time, people of the world would be benifiting from the knowledge of the last 1500 lost years of progress and understanding! I don't want to hear about your petty greivance! Keep your religion out of my womb!
Any woman that would vote for a Republican is out of her mind. These clowns want Govt out of your life except, except, except..........Classic do as I say not as I do..........disgusting
Another man telling women what to do with their bodies via some fairytale. Gee, that's a shocker!
Gi joe and Rudy I am with you. I wonder if Truth knows this, but there are Catholic hospitals around and do perform every need a patient has. Currenty it is not against the law to provide contraception or bc. And if you need a little more education, there is money in place for these services and they are paid for by the govt right now. And it has been that way for MANY years, even during the Bush terms.
No one is above the law, and that includes the church! Religion is NOT above the state; Religion is BENEATH the state.