Contraception fight heats up
February 15th, 2012
08:34 PM ET
11 years ago

Contraception fight heats up

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama's shift on the thorny issue of contraception insurance coverage announced last week was no compromise at all, congressional opponents said Wednesday.

The president is "using the strong arm of government to force all Americans to pay for drugs and procedures that may violate" their religious beliefs and rights, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, said during a Capitol Hill news conference.

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Fortenberry, who was flanked by more than a dozen mostly-Republican lawmakers, is the sponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which he said would protect the religious liberty and conscience rights of those who object to the Department of Health and Human Services' mandate to pay for contraceptive drugs and procedures. He said his legislation currently has 190 supporters in the House.

"These providers and other Americans are left with a choice: Follow your deeply-held beliefs and convictions, or obey President Obama. That's a false choice," said Fortenberry. "No American should be forced to choose between their faith and their job."

The lone Democrat at the event, Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Illinois, said all Obama offered was "a vague statement about who's going to pay for what."

"Nothing has really changed," Lipinski said. "It's nothing but a shell game."

Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, said Obama's compromise is worse than his original Jan. 20 announcement mandating most employers to cover birth control in employee health care plans with no co-pays or deductibles.

"It [the compromise] will end up forcing religious institutions to pay for services indirectly that they will not pay for directly because it violates their firmly-held moral and religious beliefs," said Sensenbrenner.

President Barack Obama announced the accommodation Friday in the dispute over whether to require full contraception insurance coverage for female employees at religiously affiliated institutions.

Under the new plan, religiously affiliated universities and hospitals will not be forced to offer contraception coverage to their employees. Insurers will be required, however, to offer complete coverage free of charge to women who work at such institutions.

Female employees at churches themselves will have no guarantee of any contraception coverage - a continuation of current law.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops denounced Obama's compromise last week soon after the president's announcement, saying the proposal raises "serious moral concerns," according to a statement posted on its website.

Sen. David Vitter, R-Louisiana, the only senator at Wednesday's press conference, said Obama's accommodation changed nothing.

"Everyone who has looked at the substance of that agrees it hasn't changed anything," Vitter said.

"To play some word game and say, 'No, the Feds aren't telling the entities what coverage they have to buy, they're simply telling the insurance company what coverage they have to provide,' doesn't change the reality," Vitter said.

Rep. Donald Manzullo, R-Illinois. said the fight is by no means over.

"We're ready to march with the cardinals, with the priests, with the bishops, with other clergy, and other people who deeply fear the fact that this is just another assault upon faith in our country," Manzullo said.

Fortenberry said he drafted his bill about a year ago, anticipating the new health care law would intrude upon Americans' rights to religious freedom and rights of conscious.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has not announced any timing for moving forward with Fortenberry's legislation, but has indicated that any legislation developed in the House would go through the Energy and Commerce Committee before the full House votes on it.

A Democratic Leadership aide told CNN a planned senate vote on the issue probably will not take place until after next week's recess.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

Also see:

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Santorum slams Obama administration as 'elite snobs'

Romney surrogates attack Santorum's record

CNN Poll: Romney's likability fading

CNN Poll: Gender and income gaps in GOP nomination battle

Filed under: Congress • Faith • President Obama
soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. racegirl1

    It's a shame the moms of these tea republicans mothers didn't use contraception and not have any of them. These people want to return to the dark ages when man pulled women by the hair into the cave.

    February 15, 2012 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  2. p kelly

    Obama's compromise was enough. Enough to make the GOP's head explode that is. The President successfully outflanked the GOP on a social issue. The GOP has been made to look like a bunch of 13th century theologians running for the office of the Pope...and completely out of touch with average people. Most people are concerned about jobs and the economy and the GOP is blowing a gasket over condoms and the pill...wasn't that an issue in the 1960's?!

    February 15, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. MikeH

    Looks like the Republicans aren't finished hitting themselves in the head with big rocks yet. After the suckerpunch Obama hit them with last week over this you'd think they'd learn.

    What abject extremist facist absolute fools they have become. Santorum is the perfect candidate for them.

    February 15, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  4. MrCredik

    Catholic teaching has long taught against heroic efforts to prolong life and in vitro fertilization because they too are an attempt to thwart the will of God. Why don't they demand that their insurance not cover that type of care. Would you be ok if they denied that care for you or your loved ones, because of their religious beliefs?

    February 15, 2012 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  5. Name Stephanie from Pittsburgh

    The Republicans are really grasping for straws. Why don't they stop creating distractions and create jobs.

    February 15, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  6. Satberry

    I am ready to march with women for their right to choose senator.

    February 15, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  7. Satberry

    They need to keep their eye on the real problem,the priest who molest young boys.How dare you get sanctimonious when you have provided a safe haven for child molesters.

    February 15, 2012 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  8. ron07

    Yes, and every person who has a "moral" belief that vaccinations are wrong won't have to buy health care policies that include vaccinations. And single men won't have to buy policies that include maternity benifits. And single women won't have to buy policies that include prostate testing.

    Get over it. If you're in the health care field, you're not protected by "freedom of religion". If you take tax payer dollars, you play by the same rules as anyone else. You're already getting tax exemptions on all that vast real estate, tithing, and god knows what else. Don't want to pay for something that is against your morals? Then stay in the confines of your church.

    February 15, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  9. AK_steve

    The Christian conservative right as well as the GOP are so far from main stream public opinion it is ridiculous. I am sick of right wing christian nuts telling everyone else what is right and what is wrong. Somehow they think that "Freedom" only applies to those who believe in their version of "Free" means.

    Well I am free to vote and it ain't for any of you wackos.

    February 15, 2012 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  10. Jane

    Unbelieveable, just heard Ron Paul say why should a 23 yr old who has her tubes tied or a 75 yr. old woman have to pay for pregnancy coverage when they can't get pregnant, How dumb can they get, these women won't use viagara or have a visectomy either. but that is covered. Get real. they are ignorant beyond belief, women of America rise up against this attack on us. Jane

    February 15, 2012 09:30 pm at 9:30 pm |
  11. Jean2

    Our country need men and women with critical thinking skills and able to think above the waist. When did the consitution become this sleasy??
    We in America need to use our thinking ability before our country looses it's mind "looking under a woman,s clothes"

    February 15, 2012 09:34 pm at 9:34 pm |
  12. Anthony... proud tax payer

    CONTRACEPTIVES are going to get you a JOB how, unemployed America?

    GAYS being able/unable to get married is going to get you a JOB how, unemployed America?

    A woman's right to CHOOSE is going to get you a JOB how, unemployed America?

    Well in 2010, some of you elected Republicans to Congress on the platform of JOBS JOBS JOBS.
    All they've done since then?
    Complain about SOCIAL issues, and obstruct any type of solutions the President has had to help fix the country.

    JOBS? Instead of you people complaining about every single thing the President does(to try and help you),
    why dont you start directing your anger at the folks who straight up lied to you to get elected, and have done more harm then good in the 2 years they've had a JOB (with health benefits your tax money pays for, i might add)

    Voting for Republicans is like repeatedly punching yourself in the groin.
    Yet I'm still patting myself on the back for my Obama vote in '08.

    Let's just vote tomorrow.. why waste time when we already know who will STILL be President in 2012.

    February 15, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  13. king

    These repubs always shouting about government intrusion, I guest that why they are intruding into woman wombs. What are rpubs in virginia doing playng surgeons on woman agains their will. Does these repubs knows no bounds when it comes to government intrusion, yet at the same time screaming against government intrution.

    February 15, 2012 09:38 pm at 9:38 pm |
  14. Chris

    If the GOP continues to push this issue any further, they will put the final nail in their coffin for this election. This should not be an issue with the other problems we have in this country.

    February 15, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  15. Thomas

    What year is it ?

    I thought the dark ages ended .

    February 15, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  16. ms

    Really?! What is wrong with these people? I thought it was a great compromise. Religious hospitals don't have to cover contraceptives...and women are still afforded options. Keep this up. You are going to lose so many women's votes. Contraceptives prevent abortion as well as other female problems. It seems the POTUS cares more about women and their rights than you people and your political agenda.

    February 15, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. Vance

    the Republicans are going to take a serious hit on this fruitless fight. Unreal waste of time. WOW

    February 15, 2012 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  18. RustyG

    Not to worry. King Barak has deemed that the religious institutions will no longer have to offer birth control and morning after pills that violate their faith. Simple solution. The Good King Barak has decreed that an independent corporation in America will simply have to give away their products for free. He is good and He is wise. The Constitution...... ppfffftt. Merely suggestions that The One will follow as he sees fit.

    February 15, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  19. AngryBob

    The lone Democrat at the event, Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Illinois, said all Obama offered was "a vague statement about who's going to pay for what."

    There's nothing vague about it. If the employer won't pay the insurance companies will eat the cost and the coverage will still be offered.

    Anyone who finds that "vague" is clearly intellectually challenged. I hope Lipinski enjoys his last term in congress.

    February 15, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  20. Melo-D

    Given that 98% of catholic women use birth control I don't see the point in this fight. The Catholic church want to impose a rule on all of America that they can't even get their congregation to follow. The GOP seem to love to uphold these antiquated laws. Maybe that's why their party is such a hot mess.

    February 15, 2012 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  21. Tisha

    Where is the outrage over what's happening in Virginia. That Democrat will face a backlash. He picked the wrong side of the issue

    February 15, 2012 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  22. macrasta

    GOP a fight against women and their health issues is a lost battle.

    February 15, 2012 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  23. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Why is it such a big deal? I don't understand why people are raising this as a huge deal. This is just something that is between a doctor and the patient. How is this anyone's business but a woman's?

    February 15, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  24. cisco4

    Look republicans.. What yew all got against XL'S?.. Its none of your business anyway.. Talk about big government Republicanism..... dirsting our personal choices..WOW..

    February 15, 2012 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  25. magyart

    The Obama admin. is clearly trampling on my 1st amendment right, by "prohibiting the free exercize" of my religion.

    Additionally, the ATF's "Fast and Furious" operation was a plot by this admin. to strip me of my 2nd amendment rights.

    Connect the dots, the Socialist Obama, is attacking churches and gun owners.

    February 15, 2012 11:09 pm at 11:09 pm |
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