Battle over Birth Control Policy

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), February 9, 2012 | Go to article overview

Battle over Birth Control Policy


Byline: Associated Press

WASHINGTON -- Republicans vowed Wednesday to reverse President Barack Obama's new policy on birth control, lambasting the rule religious schools and hospitals must provide contraceptive coverage for their employees as an "unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country."

The White House pushed back in the face of a political firestorm, arguing Obama was sensitive to the objections and looking for a way to allay the concerns. Democratic women lawmakers put up a united front in defending the administration.

"Women's health care should not depend on who the boss is," said Evanston Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

The fight over the administration mandate escalated as House Speaker John Boehner accused the administration of violating First Amendment rights and undermining some of the country's most vital institutions, such as Catholic charities, schools and hospitals. He demanded that Obama rescind the policy or else Congress will.

"This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand," Boehner, a Catholic and Ohio Republican, said in a floor speech rare for the speaker.

The contentious issue has roiled the presidential race and angered religious groups, especially Catholics, who say the requirement would force them to violate church teachings against contraception.

It also has pushed social issues to the forefront in an election year that has been dominated by the economy. Abortion, contraception and any of the requirements of Obama's health care overhaul law have the potential to galvanize the Republicans' conservative base, critical to voter turnout in the presidential and congressional races.

Clearly sensing a political opening, Republicans ramped up the criticism. Shortly after Boehner spoke, GOP senators gathered on the other side of the Capitol to hammer the administration and insist that they will push ahead with legislation to undo the requirement.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican, called the rule "an unprecedented affront to religious liberty. …

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