Mitt Romney’s War on Truth and Religion

At a rally on Monday in Colorado, Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney accused President Obama of “infringing upon Americans’ religious rights” for allowing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to require some religious institutions, including schools and hospitals, to provide coverage of birth control to their employees.

When I heard the former New York City Mayor and 2008 Republican presidential candidate Rudolph Giuliani saying “Romney’s flip-flops give me pause” on CBS, I decided to pore over Romney’s record on contraception.

Here are the facts about Romney’s stance on contraceptives –subject to change with the wind-:

In 2005 as governor of Massachusetts Romney vetoed a widely supported bill to provide access to the Plan B -morning-after-pill- making it available over the counter by publicly claiming that the bill did not apply to private religious hospitals, but in October of the same year he reversed his own July 2005 veto by signing a bill seeking a federal waiver to expand distribution of Plan B.

Moreover Romney issued an executive order on December 8, 2005, against the legal opinion of his own State Department of Public Health, instructing all Catholic hospitals and others to provide the emergency contraception Plan-B to rape victims. He told the Boston Herald “My personal view in my heart of hearts is that people who are subject to rape should have the option of having emergency contraceptives or emergency contraceptive information.”

Here are the facts about the current bill:

Religious liberty is protected in the bill as it clearly states that the houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt and the bill does not cover abortion. The bill does not force women to use contraceptives but if they are already using them, it requires insurers and employers to offer without additional cost.

According to the Public Religion Research Institute poll pointed out by the USA Today’s Faith and Reason blog, most Catholics want birth control coverage.

Here are the few findings in the poll:

  • 58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.
  • 61% of religiously unaffiliated Americans say employer plans should cover contraception.
  • 50% of white mainline Protestants want the coverage. However, for evangelical Protestants, that drops to 38%.

Not only Romney’s claim has no grounding in actual policy and is a complete misrepresentation of the regulation but also another example of his –as Newt Gingrich said- fundamental dishonesty and political expediency.