Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released an opinion column today that blasts the Obama administration for its new Obamacare mandate forcing religious employers to pay for insurance coverage that includes birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.
The mandate, which has been soundly condemned by pro-life and religious groups, would force religious employers to pay for health insurance coverage that includes drugs that can cause abortions, birth control and contraception — even if the employer has a conscience objection to providing such coverage. The Obama administration has given such employers one year to implement the mandate but Catholics groups and two colleges — one Catholic and one Protestant — have already filed lawsuits against it.
“On January 20, 2012, the Obama administration affirmed a rule that would force Roman Catholic hospitals, charities, and universities to purchase health insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization, in violation of their religious principles. This is wrong,” Romney says. “The Obama administration is at it again. They are now using Obamacare to impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away.”
“I stand with the Catholic Bishops and all religious organizations in their strenuous objection to this liberty- and conscience-stifling regulation,” Romney said in the op-ed.
“I am committed to overturning Obamacare root and branch. If I am elected President, on day one of my administration I will issue an executive order directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to issue a waiver from its requirements to all 50 states. And on day one I will eliminate the Obama administration rule that compels religious institutions to violate the tenets of their own faith. Such rules don’t belong in the America that I believe in,” Romney adds. “In the process of implementing Obamacare, the Obama administration is pressing forward with a rule that tramples on religious freedom, taking particular aim at Roman Catholics. The Obama administration is forcing religious institutions to choose between violating their conscience or dropping health care coverage for their employees, effectively destroying their ability to carry on their work.”
“Seemingly in line with this “special solicitude,” the Obama administration has put forward a “religious employer” exemption regarding contraception and sterilization insurance coverage. Unfortunately, the Obama administration lawyers narrowed its actual force almost to the vanishing point. It only applies to religious organizations engaged primarily in serving people of the same religion. But that is not what many religious institutions do; serving the broad public is the essence of their divine mission. Accordingly, they will be compelled to provide health coverage to which they object as a matter of conscience,” the Republican presidential candidate says. [related]
“In an effort to mollify the Bishops, Health and Human Services has now given religious institutions an additional twelve months to comply. That twelve-month extension is a clumsy attempt to push this matter past this year’s presidential election. As long as the rule hovers in front of us, we must keep up the battle. In a polity that provides all manners of exemption on the basis of religious freedom, it is an appalling trespass on the First Amendment.”
“Liberals and conservatives have made common cause to defend the rights of religious minorities in the past. But somehow, today, when it comes to the agenda of the left-wing of the Democratic Party—those who brought us abortion on demand and who fight against the teaching of abstinence education in our children’s schools—their devotion to religious freedom goes out the window. They would force Catholics and others who have beliefs rooted in their faith to sacrifice the teachings of their faith to the mandate of federal bureaucrats.”
“It is a prerequisite to the preservation of our liberty that our government not dictate to religious institutions the principles by which they are to carry out their charitable and divine mission. Religious liberty and freedom of conscience flow from the common conviction that it is freedom not coercion that exalts the individual, just as it raises up the nation.”
“What the Obama administration has done is indefensible. But this is about even more than President Obama denying America’s Catholics their constitutionally protected rights. This is about the preservation of our freedom. We must come together to make sure that these egregious violations of our Constitution do not stand.”