Contraception Policy Battle Ensues
GOP targets Obama on health care policy, Democrats launch "truth team" counter-offensive.
New Hampshire Democrats helped launch a grassroots-style war room today as a counter punch to Republican attacks on President Obama's health care policy involving contraceptive services.
President Obama's re-election supporters rolled out a "truth team" to rebut GOP charges that, among other things, the administration's policy oversteps fundamental rights to free exercise of religion. The Obama's front-line in New Hampshire includes House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli of Portsmouth, Rep. Candace Bouchard of Concord, Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Concord, Rep. Cindy Rosenwald of Nashua, state Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester, and former Senate President and Executive Councilor Beverly Hollingworth of Hampton.
Norelli said the president is focusing on making family planning more accessible to women by eliminating co-pays.
“Don’t let anyone fool you,” she said, “this is about birth control and nothing else. It’s about allowing women to make the decisions that are right for themselves and their families.”
Norelli, speaking during an Obama conference call Monday with reporters, added that the policy already exists in New Hampshire as part of a bipartisan bill passed in 1999. “New Hampshire law prohibits insurance companies that cover prescriptions from denying contraceptive coverage,” Norelli said.
Bouchard called it a common sense idea and said 28 states already require employers to cover contraception.
“Birth control use is nearly universal in the united states, including among catholic women,” Bouchard said. “The president is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventative services.”
Hollingworth also said the issue had nothing to do with religion.
“As a Catholic woman," she said, "I believe the president’s policy is one that helps women get the health care they need and it’s about enabling women to make the personal family planning decisions that are right for them and their families.”
D'Allesandro, also on the conference call, lit into Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
“Romney’s been caught spreading mistruths about the president on almost every issue and misleading about his own record," D'Allesandro said. "For example, while Mitt Romney has attacked President Obama’s push to give more women access to family planning as an assault on religion, as Massachusetts governor, Romney was largely silent about a state law that required virtually the same contraceptive coverage.”
The Obama For America campaign is taking its message to several websites: Keepinghisword.com, KeepingGOPhonest.com, and Attackwatch.com – all part of BarackObama.com/truthteam, which the Democrats said would be called into action as issues arise. The New Hampshire "truth team" is part of a national effort.
The Obama "truth team" roll-out was coordinated in advance of a news conference in Concord this afternoon, at which time House GOP leaders were to talk about House Resolution 29, which would call on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services "to cease its unconstitutional course of action, and to rescind this rule immediately; ..."
House Speaker Bill O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, and House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt, R-Salem, are among the sponsors of the resolution.
The full wording of HR 29 can be read here.
Bettencourt, in prepared remarks he delivered at the news conference Monday, said the resolution was needed to “push back” against part of “Obamacare.” Here is a copy of his remarks:
“As with so much of Obamacare, it is free citizens, churches and companies that are being coerced into a particular course of action when they were previously free to chose, and in this circumstance it is the Federal Government that is doing the imposing.
It is incredibly disappointing to see the Obama Administration is distracted from focusing on our fragile economy and is instead involving itself in social issues which the Federal Government has no business. It was interesting to hear the President’s Chief of Staff yesterday morning on “Meet the Press” roll out a straw man argument by saying that because some Catholic institutions receive government funds through Medicare and Medicaid they should therefore be subject to these mandates.
That argument is not just irrelevant to the point at issue, but it is also false. Dollars from Washington do not each carry a rider noting that their transmission deprives recipients of all Constitutional protections. If they did, retired Americans could be politically silenced by their Social Security checks. Such a scenario is of course ridiculous, so why are hospitals and religious institutions any different.
Moreover, no matter how hard the administration tries to spin the “compromises” they released late last week, the reality is that it is merely a symbolically tweaked plan that moves forward with trampling Americans’ religious liberties while pretending to accommodate them. In truth, nothing of substance has changed from the original announcement that religious employers will be forced to provide services they find morally objectionable.
That is wrong and we must stand up to the heavy handedness of the White House. The American people are guaranteed the right to religious liberty by the First Amendment. That means protecting both the rights of religious institutions and those of individual citizens.
It’s a shame that the Bishop need to take important time away from the dioceses to defend doctrines of the Catholic faith from this unprovoked attack by the Obama administration. That means protecting both the rights of religious institutions and those of individual citizens.
It’s a shame that the Bishop need to take important time away from the dioceses to defend doctrines of the Catholic faith from this unprovoked attack by the Obama administration.
But we are proud to stand united in defense of the First Amendment and New Hampshire’s long and proud history of religious tolerance."