(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 only problem with this is that it doesn't go far enough. Birth control and sterilization should be widely available and federally funded. It will pay for itself many times over with the decrease in welfare, WIC and food stamps disbursements.
The MORMON in him, I hear the prophet speaking, NO, it's just the Flipper spinning Salt Lake's line of crap. Why shouldn't health insurance cover an important item for women – contraception/birth control – it is a woman's choice, and it is basic health coverage.
I'd rather have a health care plan offer birth control methods – than have unwanted pregnancies.
Birth control pills taken in the morning are a little more effective than one's self control at 11 PM in a bar, or for that woman who isn't ready to start a family yet.
If your Catholic – a Catholic girl, I choked avoiding saving a "good Catholic" girl, doesn't have to get pills.
If you MORMON, we know, you have NO unplanned pregnancies to teenagers who are unmarried.
For the companies choosing health insurance, contraceptive methods is basic as pap smears, mammography, why don't we save the insuance companies money and not cover women at all. And we havent' even coverage birth.
We see the MORMON Church party line coming out of Romney's mouth.
Can we afford to have a MORMON in the white house?
The right wing is full of sheet. The repugnantcans are full of sheet. They are all doom and gloom. President Obama is the best thing that's happened to this country in years. You can all kiss my a**.
"This is why Obama and the Democrats MUST GO in 2012. We simply cannot let them destroy the best healthcare system on the planet in order to further their leftist agenda."
what utter utter utter pile of bilge. Best Healthcare LMAO. Most expensive is more like it. You're probably not using it at all, so you have no leg to stand on. your hate of the left blinds you. Try using it and see how wonderful it is, once you're buried by the bills.
LMC - 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.
Nobody has a personal right to force an employer to pay for specific benefits. He who pays the bilss decides what he wants to pay for. The person can go get their pills or abortion any day of the week ON THEIR DIME!
I guarantee those hospitals insurance already covers the cost of erectile dysfunction drugs. Which OF COURSE, a man wouldn't have to prove he's married to qualify for. More religious hypocrisy
"I do not understand how this is "an attack on religious freedoms""
it's an attack on religion in the sense they can't force their views on is with this issue. Religious people are the biggest crybabies ever. Do something that goes against their belief system or don't allow them to force their views and then you have cries of "persecution","attack", etc from them. One of the many reasons i believe that religion is a Cancer
Mr. Truth, We have the "Best healthcare system on the planet?" Maybe. IF you can afford it. Take your head out of the sand. My healthy family of four had to pay $19,000. a year for limited health insurance. I could no longer afford that. What saved us? MassHealth, that the GOP lies about unendingly in debates. Massachusetts is HAPPY about MassHealth. It WORKS.
Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, and the rest are the "Christian" equivalent of the Taliban - out to force their radical, extremist religious agenda on the entire country. Keep church and state separate. Don't let the Vatican - or Salt Lake City - dictate our laws.
If you dont want an abortion or birth control pills, then dont get them. It's not like Obama is forcing you to take the pill. 98% of the catholic women polled have used contraceptives (according to the author). Obama's plan makes sure that these women have them covered if they wan them. Mitt, get a life. Tomorrow you will turn around and say that welfare recipients must get vasectomies before receiving payments. or whatever else Rove wants to you hear.
"As a liberal, you and yours hide behind that freedom at every opportunity that it fits your cause."
give me a break. You cons do the same thing. We're not breaking out the violin for ya
For the low info FoxLies crowd.
Tired of these backward neocons who long to put us all back in the dark ages, when men feared fire, hid from lightning and threw rocks at their own shadow. They are faux conservatives, socially conservative, fiscally liberal.
The ONLY Republican whos willing to tackle REAL issues is Ron Paul. But Ron Paul wants to end the Federal reserve whos ripping us all off and theres alot of lobbying against people knowing just how badly the banks rape us.
If the march towards 1984 continues, the Patriot Act has certainly greased the wheels, folks.
I am actually against Obamacare but to characterize this as an infringement of people's rights is the opposite of what it actually is.
"secular government is closing in on and shrinking the right of religious liberty in America"... Oh Neeeeewt.
shrinking... rights ... liberty???
You mean by giving catholics the "right to choose" they have fewer rights than simply giving them NO Choice?
1984 Double Speak of the forked tongue man Newt? Surprised? Well he is reptilian, that Newt, right?
Don't like abortion? Don't have one!! Nobody forces those poor people to anything. But don't turn around and force life altering decisions -or the lack thereof- on the rest of us.
Freedom and liberty allow you to say 'yes' OR 'no'. Not everybody around here is catholic, Newt! Or Mormon, or Baptist. Nobody likes 'abortions'. They are not fun for anyone, least the women who realize they can't have and raise another child. But there is a reason to have that choice. Choice = Freedom. The party of 'NO', that's tyranny.
Here's the thing about hospitals – usually the insurance coverage for their workers requires that they use that hospital, doctors and their related medical facilities. This means women have to pay for all contraception with no coverage. It's not like some other doctor outside of the hospital can write the perscription and they can take it to the local pharmacy to get filled. Hospitals don't work like that.
I'll bet his butt is jealous because his mouth is producing all this crap.
We all know why the Catholic Church opposes birth control....more people means more money for the church! Nothing but a bunch of old men trying to control womens bodies in the name of religion.
Can somebody please remind me, and everyone else, that the flip flopper was for choice before he wasn't!
Was he paying attention last week when the Komen group had to reverse their decision about Planned Parenthood?
Religion has no place in politics. All he is doing right now is pi ssing off those who were still on the fence if he does win the nomination. You have your religions and your beliefs, good, keep them to yourself.
You don't want to provide birth control and abortions for women who want and/or need them? Fine, get rid of the little blue pill (if you are over 40 and you can't get it up that's your problem) and neuter every man over 30! There, simple, is that better for you religious bull headed fanatics?
Please ricky go home. Nobody gives a darn about you or what you have to say!
Not all employees at Catholic hospitals are Catholic. Provide the coverage – it doesn't mean it has to be used.
@Truth -Blabbing Nothing ==> you call this here the 'best health care system in the world?"
You should go out some more. If you're a millionaire it might be so, but most of us are not awash in money. We have a long way to go until we meet the standards of other European countries and how they take care of their sick and elderly. Go, turn off Fox and Blimbaugh, do some traveling.
(Oh I forgot, you don't have money for travels and you don't speak any foreign languages either, so you can't inform yourself properly. Sorry, bud.)
This idiot does not know what personal freedoms are. By including the coverage, he is requiring is GIVING a choice. It does not say you must use it. but if it is not included you have no choice in the matter.
Why is is only Republicans think exclusion means freedom of choice?
Right wingers want it all their own way in everything it appears
No birth control can lead to unwanted pregnancies
Unwanted pregnancies can lead to abortions
or Unwed mothers puttiing children on welfare NONE of which the right is in favor of.
You have to look at the whole picture because you can't have it all.
Any catholic who buys into this is subsidizing contraceptives... Obama should know better.