(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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Before my wife and I got married in 1968, the priest asked her if she was going to practice the chrches' teachings on birth control. My wife replied "No, I'm on the pill". The priest then asked her if her periods were irregular, she said "yes". The priest then said, "then, that's why you are using birth control.
Romney needs to stop pushing the Morman cults beliefs on the rest of the country.
The answer is simple...if these facilities don't offer coverage to employees for contraception, then they should not be able to take any money from medicare, medicaid, or any other public program. If they don't want to be part of democracy, let them rot.
What they are asking is not an assault on rights, but actually provides rights. You do not have to take birth control, but it allows it to you if you want. I do not understand how this is "an attack on religious freedoms". Simply not true.
Protest birth control? When did we regress back to the 1950's?
Sorry republicans. Please don't think Romney can use this against Obama, because in 2005 Romney was for the manadate. Don't take my word. It's all over the internet. Here is the article. http://cnsnews.com/blog/terence-p-jeffrey/romney-told-catholic-hospitals-administer-abortion-pills
....in his third year as governor of Massachusetts, he decided Catholic hospitals would be required under his interpretation of a new state law to give rape victims a drug that can induce abortions.
Romney announced this decision — saying it was the "right thing for hospitals" to do — just two days after he had taken the opposite position.
so why is ok for religious zealots to push their religious fanaticism onto others that are not religious or not their religion?
keep this up and Christianity itself will perish... jews would be happy.
Bad mistake for Mittens to make. Really bad mistake.
RMoney the Rabble Rouser.
Just Saying wrote:
You are wasting your time trying to educate "Truth and Nothing But The Truth." .... Keep up the good work and save your energy for someone who might actually have the capacity for rational thought.
Actually, the more people here what the real message is of the extreme right wing, the better informed we will all be. We will not make any more mistakes that allowed the Republican Party to pull of "The Great Sucker Punch" on the American people like they did in the 2010 elections. Peace.
Look, I am NOT a fan of big government...
But I am certainly NOT a fan of big religion either.
This goes both ways. If the RCC wants to operate in this country, then they need to do it within the confines of OUR laws. The fact that the RCC does not pay taxes, but gets millions in federal dollars, should be a wake-up call to all freedom loving Americans.
The fact that the RCC has spent decades harboring criminal child molesters and other dangerous criminals, and still has yet to be held fully alccountable for their actions, should be a wake-up call to all Americans.
This religion does not pay taxes, gets OUR money and lives outside the rules, that the rest of us have to adhere to. NOT fair, and even I doubt Jesus could do way better than this.
Hmmm... it's okay to cover pills than make men hard, but not okay to cover women who wish to avoid an expensive pregnancy? Come on. This has nothing to do with "religious" freedom – it's about freedom itself. Birth control should have been covered under insurance decades ago. I'm glad we have a President who finally has the berries to do what's right.
This is why I have no faith in American government. Mixed up priorities among them. Polls have shown that a vast majority of citizens don't give flip about this issue but a minority of "B-thumpers" rant about it over and over until a position is mandatory. They want to make it a front burner issue. This one and gay marriage is another.
@jay zee- Its called "freedom of speech" . As a liberal, you and yours hide behind that freedom at every opportunity that it fits your cause.
I meant to say "Jesus could do way better than this".
And I doubt Jesus needed tax-exempt status to get his good deeds done.
So the fact that Obama didn't make an exception for religions makes him biased? Do people know what equality actually means? The fact of the matter, just because people have the coverage doesn't mean they have to use it. Isn't this more about the responsibility of the individual? If they truly have these "christian" convictions then having coverage shouldn't matter. Why do the people who claim to have such strong "christian" convictions feel threatened by having an option? Where are the people who believe in personal accountability?
Not all birth control is used for the sole purpose of birth control. All employees should have the option to take medications if he/she and their doctor decide so.
Church: Don't like the rules? Don't accept federal money. No problem.
The government should not be in this issue at all. The pushing of America toward the vision of "1984" and Big Brother continues.
I just saw a poll that shows that Catholics and many religions groups use contraception. Is it the case of do as I say and not as I do?
Newt Leroy Gingrich should stay away from moralizing about contraception because with two ex-wives and a wife, he is not in a position to be lecturing people about morality.
Did you see the new protest group? Republicans against Vasectomies.
What is it with Romney? I think the problem here is that the church wants to force its views of birth control and voluntary sterilization on their employees...many of whom might not be Catholic and believe as they do about these things. So why does Romney think that anyone should dictate what medical procedures are available to anyone...no matter where they work. Just because you happen to work for a Catholic hospital shouldn't mean that your insurance shouldn't pay for bc pills if it is your choice to plan your pregnancies. And if at some time you decide you have all the children you can economically take care of and provide for, then sterilization is no one's business but yours and your doctors. By not providing that coverage your employer is forcing their beliefs on you. And if the hospital won't perform the operation or fill the prescription, others will and you should have the coverage available.
This a protection of rights! It's fine for a Catholic hospital to not believe in contraception, but it is not fair for them to deny their employees to have contraception covered by their health insurance. The Obama administration is not taking away personal rights, they are telling religious organizations that THEY can't take away personal rights.