Last Updated:November 29 @ 04:44 pm

Conservatives object to interference with religious liberty

By Laurie Kellman

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama's political shifting over contraception coverage has united conservative Republicans in protest even as they split over which GOP presidential hopeful should face him in the general election.

The candidates themselves, campaigning for votes in the Conservative Political Action Conference's straw poll Saturday, competed to present themselves as most opposed to Obama's health care law. It includes a requirement that most religious-affiliated employers cover birth control costs regardless of their beliefs.

On Friday, after three weeks of controversy that pitted the nation's Catholic bishops against the White House, Obama retreated. Instead of requiring employers to cover contraception, the policy would now require insurance companies to provide free birth control coverage in separate agreements with workers who want it.

Conservatives scoffed.

"It's an accounting trick - the employer still pays the insurance," said Mike Gonzales of the Heritage Foundation. "Do (White House officials) think people are stupid?"

The controversy, several said, is a natural outgrowth of what they consider the overreach of Obama's health care mandate.

"My problem is the coercion" in the broader overhaul, said Washington real estate agent Bruce Majors.

Many shrugged off Obama's rewrite.

"It's not like they said, 'We were wrong," said Spencer Larson, an investment adviser from Moraga, Calif. "They said, 'We can't afford this politically.'"

"Nothing in health insurance is free," agreed Cherylyn Harley LeBon, a lawyer. "The cost is going to be passed on" to employees of religious organizations and everyone else, she said.

The whole debate over government health insurance has cost Obama plenty. His party lost the House majority in 2010 in part because of a backlash over the new law's demands on private industry and individuals.

The resentments erupted anew after the Obama administration on Jan. 20 announced that religious-affiliated employers, except houses of worship, had to cover birth control free of charge as preventive care for women. These hospitals, schools and charities were given until August 2013 to comply.

Under the revision, women will still get guaranteed access to birth control without co-pays or premiums no matter where they work, a provision of Obama's health care law that he insisted must remain. But religious universities and hospitals that see contraception as an unconscionable violation of their faith can refuse to cover it. Insurance companies will then have to step in to do so.

A Fox News poll released Friday showed a large majority, 61 percent, of Americans approve of requiring employer health plans to cover birth control for women. Thirty-four percent disapproved. The nationwide survey was conducted by telephone among 1,110 registered voters Feb. 6-9 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, the network said.

The furor was part of a recent resurgence of social issues, including gay marriage and the funding of Planned Parenthood, in the political discourse. For Obama, the uproar risked his clout with independents, women and Catholics in battleground states from Pennsylvania to across the Midwest.

Republicans, meanwhile, roiling over a presidential nominating contest that shows no sign of settling, pounced on the issue. From the House and Senate to the presidential campaign trail this week, they cast the contraception controversy as an assault on the freedom of religion. It was a battle cry the divided party could bellow in unison.

At the CPAC convention Friday in Washington, the political candidates made contrasting appeals to conservatives but vowed to repeal all or parts of what they call "Obamacare."

Former Sen. Rick Santorum, who swept three nomination contests earlier in the week, said that with the health care law, Obama "is telling the Catholic Church that they are forced to pay for things that are against their basic tenants and teachings."

"It's not about contraception," said Santorum, a Catholic. "It's about economic liberty."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Mormon who in the past supported abortion rights, vowed to reverse "every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life."

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  1. tellitlikeitis2Comment by tellitlikeitis2
    February 11, 2012 @ 10:10 am

    Conservatives might object but that’s about all they’re going to do as Obama is getting away with murder and the constitution is becoming a joke!  All these conservatives like Rubio and a few others are sending letters to the president but doing nothing else.  This guy should have been thrown out of office and yet he’ll  probably get another four years.

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    • yaki534Comment by yaki534
      February 11, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

      Yes, tellitlikeitis2, I agree that this flop-eared jerk needs to be impeached. He absolutely hates Christians, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He has divided the nation more than any other president.
      His disdain for Christians sure does point to him being Muslum, huh.

      I normaly show respect for the office, but he deserves none. He is killing the nation.

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  2. cxComment by genesal
    February 11, 2012 @ 11:26 am

    Interference?  I call it ‘checking the waters’ for Dictatorship.

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  3. Tonto (USA)Comment by Tonto (USA)
    February 11, 2012 @ 2:14 pm

    Emotional issue….and in keeping with Obama’s normal MO, it makes me wonder what this huge smoke screen is really hiding.  What move is the Obama regime really making behind the scenes while this obvious ploy (which is a patent loser for Obama) is going on and diverting attention?

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  4. superg1Comment by superg1
    February 11, 2012 @ 2:31 pm

    I think the government should do what they can to reduce the numbers of abortions done in America. If a woman is on the pill, she won’t need an abortion. Contraception should be available to all women who want it. You could make abortions a thing of the past if there were no unwanted pregnancies in America. Restict cheap access to the pill, and abortion rates will increase. Why do you want that?

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  5. kathyComment by kathy
    February 11, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    How terrible that a “liberal” should interfere with religious liberty — only “conservatives” (who, of course, are the only ones to know how God really feels about things) — should have that option!

    The !st Amendment is in place to be sure that GOVERNMENT does not interfere with an individual’s right to practice religion (or not) as they see fit.  With that in mind, the Obama statement about birth control and abortion in Catholic schools, hospitals, etc., was wrong.  Aside from immediate life-threatening situations, those who choose hospitals supported by a particular denomination are tacitly agreeing to abide by that domination’s moral principles — otherwise, they should pick another doctor and/or hospital.

    Similarly, the PUBLIC hospitals should not interfere with individual choices and values — including abortion, birth control, and sexual orientation.

    Both sides of the “morality” argument need to learn to keep their grubby mitts OFF of the individual’s right to worship (or not) in the way that they see fit. 

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    • superg1Comment by superg1
      February 11, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

      When does your religious beliefs trump my access to healthcare as a hospital worker. If you are against birth control, don’t use it. But don’t force your belief system on others. When will America get back to personal freedom and get away from people trying to control the lives of others. What if Catholics were taught that employing women was wrong. Would catholic affiliated hospitals be able to prevent women from employment? No.
      Rastafarians are not allowed to smoke marijuana in America even though it does no harm to others and is a key sacrament of their religion. I don’t see conservatives fighting for the rastafarian’s rights to use marijuana. It seems that religious freedom is granted on a subjective basis. It’s not as Rastafarians are asking to allow employees of affiliated businesses to be able to smoke pot even if they are not Rastafarians themselves. So you see at least the Catholic Church was granted the ability not to cover birth control for direct Church employees. I guess the amount of religious freedom you get in this country depends on what your religion is.

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    • cxComment by genesal
      February 11, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

      What you should be asking is “When does your 1st Amendment Rights trump my access….”   First of all nobody is keeping you from using birth control and I actually hope that YOU do.  Second of all there is no right thru any Constitution or elsewhere for providing free birth control or abortion pill or anything else.  You need it, it can be had from hundreds of sources such as Planned Parenthood.  Point is “Don’t Tread On Us” as you can look into history to see what happened last time the Gov’t and the likes of you tried to TREAD.

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  6. wdjincComment by wdjinc
    February 11, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    Hussein Obama is bedded with the Muslims, and has proven his anti-Christian bearing through countless anti-religion support activities, including his non-participation in National Prayer Day. He did participate in a Muslim Prayer Day where 50,000 Muslims attended. His commie czars coupled with his support for the ACLU, Freedom From Religion and his placement of far left liberal judges have been heel-bent on taking religion out of everything sacred to America (crosses, prayers, symbols, God, etc).

    Obama may say that he is a Christian, but only because 85% of the voters are Christian. His 20+ year association with Reverend Wright is rubbing off. 

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  7. Cape ConservativeComment by Cape Conservative
    February 11, 2012 @ 11:07 pm

    This is MUCH more than a battle against religious beliefs. This is uncalled for intrusion into our private lives by a government on steroids!
    Where is there any authority for the president to demand that women be given – FREE of charge – contraceptives or abortion pills???? Since when is the president of the United States of America allowed to demand that insurance companies provide something FREE to its customers????
    How on earth have women been able to care for their own bodies for thousands of years without the GOVERNMENT stepping in????  I see absolutely NO reason for OUR hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for someone else’s reckless lifestyle! And I see absolutely NO reason for the president of the United States of America to spend his time interfering in our individual private lives! It is time for him to stop shoving his liberal agenda down our throats…we CAN take care of ourselves just fine, thank you!
    Thanks Hollywood – Thanks liberal government – Thanks liberal public schools and universities – THANKS – NOT! for constantly projecting images that are nothing more than brain-washing.  It used to be we could go to the movies and see a story about good overcoming evil…now it is just the opposite.  It used to be that schools were for learning about Science, American and World History, Mathematics, Spelling/Grammar/Composition/Literature…now it’s all about teaching INNOCENT children about alternative lifestyles in very explicit terms and how to put a condom on a banana! 
    WE ARE REAPING WHAT HAS BEEN SOWN THE PAST 60 YEARS!  It is past time to return to the basic principles and values of our founding fathers!  America was founded as a Judeo-Christian nation and no amount of ‘tweaking’ by the current president will change that fact! We must NOT let this great country fall into ruin because of political correctness!

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  8. Jerome from LaytonComment by Jerome from Layton
    February 12, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    Looks like our “Dear Leader” just handed the State Attorney Generals another argument against Obama Care. First, he says St. Vincent’s, etc. has to offer contraceptive services if they offer a health plan. When that blows up in his face, then he says well they have to buy insurance for health care. However, as part of the “Affordable Health……”, all insurance plans have to offer certain services including those which violate the teachings of multiple groups, including Catholics. This means that Obama Care is now tied to a Violation of the First Amendment! Hopefully, the State AGs will remember this when they get to the Supreme Court, and thank you, Obummer, for reminding us.

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  9. superg1Comment by superg1
    February 14, 2012 @ 1:17 am

    The courts already ruled on this. It is not anything new. If you are against birth control, than you must want an increase in the abortion rates. Because that is what lack of contraception will bring.

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