In December 2005, Romney required all Massachusetts hospitals, including Catholic ones, to provide emergency contraception to rape victims, even though some Catholics view the morning-after pill as a form of abortion.
He said he was acting on his legal counsel’s interpretation of a new state law - one passed by lawmakers despite his veto - but he also said that “in his heart of hearts,’’ he believed that rape victims should have access to emergency contraception.
I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama. Most recently, of course, requiring the Catholic Church to provide for its employees and its various enterprises health care insurance that would include birth control, sterilization and the morning-after pill. Unbelievable. And he tried to retreat from that but he retreated in a way that was not appropriate, because these insurance companies now have to provide these same things and obviously the Catholic Church will end up paying for them.
“This just might be the same administration that said that the churches and the institutions they run such as schools and … adoptions agencies, hospitals, that they have to provide for their employees free of charge contraceptives, morning after pills, in other words abortive pills, and the like, at no cost,” Romney added.
“Think what that does to people who are in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience. We must have a president who is willing to protect America’s first right, our right to worship God.”
Mitt Romney is charging the Obama administration with seeking to curtail religious freedom at the same time it’s defending its decision to require religious employers to cover birth control in employee health plans.
“I’m just distressed as I watch our president try and infringe upon our rights; the First Amendment of the Constitution provides the right to worship in the way of our own choice,” Romney said to about 2,800 people Monday evening at a high-school gymnasium here.
As governor, Romney made no similar effort to amend or repeal the state law, which required employers that purchase insurance plans in Massachusetts to pay for contraceptives. He did clash with lawmakers about whether Catholic hospitals should be required to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.
Despite his silence on the state law, as a presidential candidate Romney attacked Obama's initial proposal, which would have required Catholic-affiliated employers to pay for a service that violates the church's teachings.
"This kind of assault on religion will end if I'm president of the United States," Romney said, calling it "a real blow ... to our friends in the Catholic faith."
Said he would end federal aid to Planned Parenthood.
A female audience member asked Romney where he might suggest “millions of women go” without Planned Parenthood offering reproductive and sexual health care.
“Well they can go wherever they’d like to go,” Romney told her. “This is a free society. But here’s what I’d say, which is the federal government should not tax these people to pay for Planned Parenthood … The idea of the federal government funding Planned Parenthood I’m going to say no, we’re going to stop that.”
“So you’re all for like, yay, freedom, and all this stuff,” said the first woman to approach a microphone. “And yay, like pursuit of happiness. You know what would make me happy? Free birth control.”
Her remark drew a mix of applause and boos from the crowd, and a rebuke from the Republican frontrunner.
“You know, let me tell you, no no, look, look let me tell you something,” he said, waiting for the crowd noise died down. “If you’re looking for free stuff you don’t have to pay for? Vote for the other guy, that’s what he’s all about, okay? That’s not, that’s not what I’m about.”
In 2005, Romney, then the governor of Massachusetts, vetoed a bill meant to expand emergency access to the “morning after pill.” The law would have required hospitals to offer the pill to rape survivors and allowed for certain state-sanctioned pharmacists to sell it without asking for a prescription.
“The bill does not involve only the prevention of conception: The drug it authorizes would also terminate life after conception,” Romney wrote, defending the veto in this op-ed piece.
Now a Republican presidential candidate, Mr. Romney in recent days has criticized the White House's initial insistence that certain religious-affiliated employers cover the cost of contraception. His campaign started an online petition asking people if they have "had enough of the Obama administration's attacks on religious liberty.''
Speaking in Colorado last week, Mr. Romney amplified that message. "Remarkably, under this president's administration, there is an assault on religion,'' he said, "an assault on the conviction and the religious beliefs of members of our society."
Either way, Mitt Romney created a new tempest when he told an Ohio news station that he was opposed to a Senate amendment, favored by conservatives and under debate in Congress on Wednesday, that would allow employers and insurers to limit coverage of contraceptives if they have religious or moral objections.
“I’m not for the bill,” Mr. Romney said, but then added, “the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”
As President, I will follow a very different path than President Obama. I will be a staunch defender of religious freedom. The Obamacare regulation is not a threat and insult to only one religious group - it is a threat and insult to every religious group. As President, I will abolish it.