Romney urges supporters to protest birth control rule
February 6th, 2012
02:16 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney urges supporters to protest birth control rule

(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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Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Religion
soundoff (238 Responses)
  1. SV

    Wake up. This issue is far bigger than just the Catholic church. This is a sneaky, insidious law being pushed by fundamental religious zealots, not just Catholics. You're going to have owners of companies everywhere decide to pick and choose what they will and will not cover. And, if corporations are considered to be people, as Mitt Romney believes, then it follows that a corporation can suddenly adopt a religion and all the beliefs that come with it and ram it down the throats of all who work there. This is NOT just a little inconsequential thing. This is NOT just about Catholics. It's sneaky and evil and the Mitt Romney's of the world know the end game is to stand on the throats of women.

    February 6, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  2. William

    This is another Red Herring, this policy is already in place in 28 or 56% of the 50 states, including the state where Romney was governor as part of his healthcare plan. Moreover, there are exemptions for church workers. Furthermore, 98% of practicing Catholics themselves use contraceptive devices. Either this man is woefully uninformed, an idiot or will say anything to get elected, - I think it is a combination of both. It brings into question his readiness to be President!

    February 6, 2012 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. Mark from Louisiana

    I'll bet you a six pack that obama would never force muslims to do anything their religion doesn't allow.....

    February 6, 2012 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  4. Be Sane

    Here's my question. Not all workers in catholic facilities are of the catholic faith. Why should they be denied benefits that do not go against their faith? Futhermore, what difference does it make to the catholic church if these benefits are offered? Don't they feel their teachings mean anything to their followers.

    February 6, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  5. bob

    I'm all for Republican sterilization! I'm going to start lobbying for that one!

    February 6, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. kate

    More republican propaganda. The Catholic church isn't the only church.

    February 6, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. anagram_kid

    Tell you what, I will believe the Catholic Church really believes in no contraception when they excommunicate parishioners that use any form of contraception and most importantly stop accepting any MONEY from said parishioners.

    February 6, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  8. LivinginVA

    This is tightly tailored – if the group is exempt from EEOC regulations, they don't have to offer contraception. Those groups that are required to follow EEOC regs have to offer it. So a minister and clerical church staff that can say "we won't hire you unless you are a member of our church", is perfectly able to refuse to offer contraception. On the other hand, a hospital where one does not have to be of that particular religion to get the job, must offer it on the grounds that not everyone employed there subscribes to those religious beliefs. It is a question of balancing the rights of the religion and the health rights of those who don't follow it.

    February 6, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  9. Lolo

    @Truth and Nothing but the truth, whoever is paying you to blog lies on here need to request a refurnd. You are really ignorant. This is a personal descision and if your holier than thou GOP/Tea Partiers do not want an abortion or birth control then don't use it., but quit telling everyone else how to manage their health care.

    February 6, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  10. Matthew Kilburn

    You know what the overall course of action should be?

    Stop treating children and procreation like the plague, to be avoided at all costs. Stop killing off the future of this country and hastening our decline as a society be trying to eliminate the thing most important to our future.

    February 6, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  11. Peter

    This is business and voluntary service. This has nothing to do with individual liberty. Typical Republican platform: take something good and sell it as something bad. Birth control is what this country needs to keep these people from spawning!

    February 6, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  12. pensimmon

    For heaven's sake- NO-ONE is forcing anyone to do anything that interferes with their personal faith. Many of us DO use contraception, and some may possibly have an abortion- a raped 12 year old, a seriously malformed fetus etc. If you don't like these things don't do them. But just offer coverge in health plans so that the rest of us can use them as we think fit- why should I do what YOU want? This is supposed to be a "free country" – right? Look after you own salvation, and I'll look after mine. When insurances pay for Viagra, I certainlky think they should pay for birthcontrol pills.

    February 6, 2012 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  13. Sean

    This is ridiculous. "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."

    They're not taking religious freedom away from INDIVIDUALS. They're ensuring that INDIVIDUALS have freedom to make their own healthcare choices regardless of their employer's religious affiliation. That literally the opposite of taking freedom away.

    February 6, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  14. SPOQshok

    What do you mean an assault on personal liberties? If you don't want birth control, then don't go get it.

    February 6, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Eric

    If the Catholic Church doesn't want to offer contraception, it can chose to stop being a profit-seeking managed care organization as a side business. Issue resolved.

    February 6, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  16. anagram_kid

    As a supporter of President Obama, I really hope the GOP continues to press the idea that churches/religion trump the government, because as I have stated before, religion is about behavior, not belief. Once people realize that it may be someone else’s religious rules that are enforced, they will recognize why theocracy is not a practical form of government. The issue of contraception is a great start. What is more defining of big government than to be told you are not allowed to have s*x without the risk of pregnancy. Good luck selling that one GOP.

    February 6, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  17. NoTags

    In the pic Mitt looks like a televangelist offering Miracle Spring Water for only $9.95. If you order right now you can get a bottle of Annointing Oil and a Miracle Prayer Cloth absolutely free.

    February 6, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  18. longtooth

    Another barrel of BS from the republicans competing to be the one Obama humiliates in the election. Pointing fingers, trying to raise hysteria over emotional issues, never offering alternative solutions. I was raised Catholic. If I followed the teachings of the church, I'd have fifteen kids. Who would feed them? What a crock.

    February 6, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  19. Phil in KC

    There's really a simple answer: stop taking government money!

    February 6, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  20. ithink122

    Should an employer be allowed to decide what care you do or do not have access to because of their own personal religiois beliefs or should the individual have the freedom to decide which medical services they take advantage of and not be discriminated against and denied care because they are a different religion then their employer and may believe different things?

    Yeah, religious freedom is the issue here, but Republicans are on the wrong side of the debate.

    February 6, 2012 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  21. icecold

    Actually, the facts are opposite of what Mitt is saying. Obama is extending personal liberties and rights by giving people that work for the Catholic church the right to purchase contraceptives(a medical product) through their employers insurance. The catholic church on the other hand, along with republicans, are limiting personal liberty by blocking the purchase of contraceptives through employee insurance when it should be covered. The church does not have the right to deny americans coverage of medical products or procedures bc they don't approve of the treatment. Obama is a good man that is standing up for women's rights even in an election year when he knows that repubs will twist his words and try to use them against him.

    February 6, 2012 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  22. Rudy NYC

    @Truth

    Should the father's employer provided health plan be able to deny the kid the potentially life saving blood transfusion?

    February 6, 2012 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  23. Justin

    What you are all apparently missing is that the health insurance provision is for hospitals, schools, and charities and applies to employees. Not everyone working for a catholic hospital, school, or charity is catholic. No one is mandating that condoms be passed out to students or any other silly garbage like that. When it comes to church, Catholicism is a religion, when it comes to hospitals, schools, and charities Catholicism is a business.

    February 6, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  24. John

    Here's where I have a real problem. Religious orginizations want religious freedom and don't want the goverment interfering in how they run things. Fine. Stop taking goverment money and Tax exemptions and be my guest. As long as tax payer money is given, tax payers have a say.

    February 6, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  25. icecold

    BTW, when did a religion become a person, so how can he be attacking personal right's. It seems to me he is attacking employer abuse by giving people the option to choose if they would like to use a contraceptive or not regardless of the church's belief system.

    February 6, 2012 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
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