Birth Control Controversy Continues
House Speaker John Boehner called it "an unambiguous attack on religious freedom" during a rare House floor speech decrying the mandate, reports USA Today. "If the president does not reverse the … attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must. This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand and will not stand."
The issue started Jan. 20 when Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius issued a ruling that required all women to have access to free preventative care services.
The rule does exempt churches and houses of worship from the mandate, but not institutions with a religious-affiliation.
While the White House has not backed down from the mandate, USA Today says it may consider making free birth control available to employees of religious institutions without their employers’ direct involvement.
Rick Santorum railed against the policy in his victory speech Tuesday night.
"When government gives you rights, the government can tell you how to exercise those rights," Santorum said. "And we saw that just in the last week, with a group of people, a small group of people — just Catholics in the United States of America! — who were told you have a right to health care, but you will have the health care that we tell you you have to give your people, whether it is against the teachings of your church or not."
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Mitt Romney had a nearly identical policy in Massachusetts. Romney said that the policy was in place before he became governor and he tried to remove it.
The White House told USA Today that 28 states already have similar laws. Of those state, eight have no religious exemption.
Vice President Joe Biden said that the administration will be able to address the concerns. Biden told the Washington Post that he’s “determined to see that this gets worked out and I believe we can work it out.”
Some Catholic leaders have said this is not enough and that they do not expect the White House to change anything.
"There has been a lot of talk in the last couple days about compromise, but it sounds to us like a way to turn down the heat, to placate people without doing anything in particular," Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told USA Today. "We're not going to do anything until this is fixed."
He said this means removing the provision altogether, not changing it just for Catholic employers.
The rule is planned to go into effect Aug. 1, but objections may push it back a year.
The backlash is also significant because it is an election year and the mandate could hurt Obama.
Reach executive producer Hannah Madans here.