I hope the Obama administration stands firm on this one. It was only a matter of time until the church upped the political ante, and of course a low-life like Newt Gingrich is only too happy to jump on the bandwagon. The American church's hierarchy climbed under the covers with the right wing decades ago, and they're all too happy to tear down the Democratic candidates on command:
During church services on Sunday, Catholics around the country were read a blistering letter assailing the Obama administration for an "assault on religious liberty" in the form of a coming requirement that most church-linked organizations - among them hospitals, schools and universities - offer birth control coverage as part of their health care plans.
Despite strong lobbying from religious groups, the Health and Human Services Department announced earlier this month that most church-linked groups will not be exempt from the requirements - which also mandate that no co-pay be charged for contraceptive services - though they will have an extra year to comply beyond the August 1 deadline.
Churches themselves (along with any other employer that is explicitly focused on offering a religious message, and which primarily employs those who believe in that message) are exempt from the requirement.
Religious groups were outraged by the decision - saying it forced employers at church-linked organizations to violate their conscience - and on Sunday Catholic leaders took their complaints directly to parishioners. As Business Insider reported, similar letters were read in churches around the country complaining that "the Obama Administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty."
In an appearance on "CBS This Morning" Monday, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich brought up the letters, using them as an opportunity to attack both the Obama administration and Republican rival Mitt Romney.
"The Obama administration has just launched an attack on Christianity so severe that every single church in Florida had a letter read from the bishops yesterday all across the country - Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan was leading an effort to explain that, literally, freedom of religion in America is now being attacked by Obama," he said. "The Romneycare does the same thing. Romneycare has tax-paid abortions. Romneycare put Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in America, in the bill. No right to life group's in the bill. Planned Parenthood is. Romney himself approved taking away a conscience clause from Catholic hospitals."
(As Hotsheet pointed out earlier this month, Gingrich's comment that Planned Parenthood is part of the health care law Romney signed as Massachusetts governor is misleading, and Massachusetts law mandated that the health care law cover abortion.)
In explaining the decision to require birth control coverage for chuch-linked groups, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that "Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, it is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing."