Likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney doubled down on his attack against President Obama for allegedly waging a “war on religion” during a town hall in Milwaukee, Wisconsin Monday night, insisting that the Affordable Care Act’s new rule requiring employers to provide preventive health care services like contraception constituted an effort to establish “secularism” as an official religion.
“They decided to say that in this country, that a church, in this case the Catholic Church would be required to violate its principles and its conscience and be required to provide contraceptives, sterilization and morning after pills to the employees of the Church,” Romney said. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), who has endorsed Romney and has campaigned throughout Wisconsin with the former governor, went even further, suggesting that “if that’s what this president is willing to do in a tough election year, imagine what he will do after the election if he ever has to face the voters ever again in fulfilling the rest of Obamacare.” Watch it:
But both men should know better, particularly since they’re in a state that has a far more aggressive contraceptive equity law than Obama’s national model and have yet to witness any grand sweep of secularism across the Badger State.
For instance, under Obama’s rule the Catholic Church — and all houses of worship — are specifically exempt from providing contraception to their employees, while religiously affiliated nonprofits can also opt out of offering birth control if they so choose. The same is not true in Wisconsin, however, where a 2010 law requires all employers — including the Catholic Church — to offer contraceptive benefits. But rather than declare war against “secularism,” religious organizations seem amiable towards the change. Some had been providing the benefit prior to the requirement and other characterize the use of contraception as a matter of personal conscience.
“Our employees know what church teaching is. And we trust them to use their conscience and do the right thing,” said Brent King, spokesman for the Madison Diocese, which began covering prescription contraception.” “Diocese of Madison employees, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, sign a document when they’re hired vowing to abide by the laws of both Wisconsin and the church. He said employees would receive “strong pastoral recommendations against” using the contraception benefit, but that the diocese has no intention of policing it.