Boehner: Congress to Overturn Birth Control Policy
House Speaker John Boehner accused the Obama administration Wednesday of an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom,” promising that Congress will reverse a new policy requiring religious schools and hospitals to provide employees with free birth control if the president doesn’t.
Escalating a fight that has roiled the presidential race, Boehner demanded that President Barack Obama overturn the policy that Boehner called a violation of First Amendment rights. The administration’s mandate has angered religious groups, especially Catholics, who say the requirement would force them to violate their beliefs against contraception, and congressional Republicans.
“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 rare floor speech.
On the other side of the Capitol, the Republican onslaught continued, with GOP senators vowing to push ahead with legislation to undo the requirement.
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., stood with other GOP lawmakers, and called the new rule “an unprecedented affront to religious liberty. This is not a women’s’ rights issue. This is a religious liberty issue.”
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said the issue wasn’t contraception but “whether the government of the United States should have the power to go in and tell a faith-based organization that they have to pay for something that they teach their members shouldn’t be done. It’s that simple. And if the answer is yes, then this government can reach all kinds of other absurd results.”
The contentious issue 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.