As governor of Massachusetts, Mitt Romney made a similar decision about religious organizations and contracept …Calling it "a direct attack on religious liberty," Mitt Romney's campaign criticized the Obama administration's decision to require religious hospitals and universities to provide birth control coverage in accordance with the Affordable Care Act, even if it goes against the employers' religious beliefs.
But what the Republican presidential hopeful didn't mention was the fact that, as governor of Massachusetts in 2005, Romney required religious hospitals to do nearly the same thing.
Back then, he vetoed a bill requiring all hospitals -- even Catholic ones -- to offer emergency contraception to rape victims. But when the Massachusetts state government overturned the veto, he switched sides on the issue, insisting that requiring religious hospitals provide the so-called morning-after pill was "the right thing."
"I think it's, in my personal view, it's the right thing for hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception to anyone who is a victim of rape," he said at the time.
Though Romney is currently running for president as a pro-life candidate, he ran as an abortion rights supporter during a 1994 campaign for U.S. Senate and again during the 2002 race for governor of Massachusetts, justifying his then pro-choice position with a personal story about his brother-in-law's sister, whom he said died during a botched illegal abortion in the 1960s.
"It is since that time my mother and my family have been committed to the belief that we can believe as we want, but we will not force our beliefs on others on that matter, and you will not see me wavering on that," he said during an Oct. 25, 1994, debate with Senator Edward M. Kennedy.
But, since then, he's done more than waver. He's switched sides entirely.
In an email to the New York Times on Monday, Romney spokesperson Andrea Saul wrote that Romney considers it "wrong" to require religious employers, including hospitals and universities, to provide birth control, including emergency contraception, to anyone. "This is a direct attack on religious liberty," she wrote, "and will not stand in a Romney presidency."
Romney has also pledged to end Title X, which funds family planning services including screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer. Though Planned Parenthood receives funding through Title X, federal law states that the funds cannot be used to pay for abortion services.
The other GOP presidential candidates take the birth control issue a step further:
- Rick Santorum says that health insurance plans should not be required to cover birth control at all, and favors allowing states to decide whether to ban birth control completely; he also says that abortion should be banned completely, even in cases of rape and incest, believes that schools should not be allowed to teach students about contraception, and has voted for legislation that would penalize states where high numbers of illegitimate children are born. He supports a federal "personhood" amendment which would define life as beginning at conception.
- Newt Gingrich also supports ending Title X, specifically in order to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and, like Santorum, says he would back a federal amendment defining life at conception. He also supported the Federal Abortion Ban, which would sentence doctors who perform certain types of abortion to two years in jail.
- Ron Paul, a former obstetrician, opposes insurance coverage of all forms of birth control and has said that, as president, he would veto "all government family planning schemes," including Title X. Though he supports abortion rights when a woman's life is at risk, he opposes it in cases of rape and incest.
The Obama administration's rule about religious employers and contraception is part of the Affordable Care Act, which states that health insurers must cover birth control costs without a co-payment and calls birth control a form of "preventative care" for women. Places of worship have always been exempt from this portion of the act, but many religious groups feel that it should apply to organizations that are affiliated with religion, like Catholic hospitals and religious universities, as well. These other organizations now have an extra year to comply with the new law, but are not exempt from it.
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