Romney (and the Pope?) vs. Obama’s contraception mandate
I guess it paid to go to Poland. This is a new Romney ad, aimed transparently at Catholics, that fully embraces the shameful line that the Obama administration “declared war on religion” by daring to require large religious employers (not churches, which were always exempt, but hospitals and the like) to provide women birth control under Obamacare.
Back when this fight was raging, the President altered an original rule to preserve religious institutions’ right to refuse to provide the coverage directly, while also protecting the ability of women to get it as part of their health insurance. Under the compromise, health plans will have to provide the benefit as part of the standard suite of preventive services they will be required to offer; the large religious employers themselves won’t pay.
The underlying issue is a legitimate policy dispute, though I side with Obama. The language in the ad is so sickeningly wrong, it’s hard to believe Romney believes it. But there he is, approving the message at the end. And there he is exploiting, er, using images of a beloved former Pope to make a most manipulative appeal to Catholic voters.
Reminder: When, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney was confronted with a similar law — which had been signed by his predecessor — he “didn’t raise objections on religious or moral grounds, say people who worked in his administration or in health care interest groups there. Rather, he viewed the contraception requirement more in economic terms.” (That’s according to the Wall Street Journal.)
Why didn’t he focus on religious freedom then? Because this is an overheated charge. But never mind that and convince yourself that our President is at war with Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Mormonism, etc., because he wants employees to get full health benefits. It’s a vile and absurd charge. (If health plans offered by the Christian Science Monitor said no blood transfusions, and government said they had to offer them to employees as part of a package of care, would that be an assault on religion? I sure don’t think so.)
This is the game Romney will keep playing: make unsupportable and hypocritical claims, claims even he does not seem to believe, through his perfect teeth. And hope just enough people buy them.