The Republican Party has apparently decided that they really want to have a big public fight with President Obama over whether or not employers with connections to religious institutions should be required to provide birth control as part of their employees’ health insurance. The GOP is acting like they believe the issue is a political winner for them.
This issue featured very prominently in both Rick Santorum’s and Mitt Romney’s recent political speeches. In addition today Republican Speaker John Boehner gave a rare floor speech encouraging a fight against what he called the “attack on religious freedom.” From Boehner:
This rule would require faith-based employers – including Catholic charities, schools, universities, and hospitals – to provide services they believe are immoral. Those services include sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and devices, and contraception.
In imposing this requirement, the federal government has drifted dangerously beyond its constitutional boundaries, encroaching on religious freedom in a manner that affects millions of Americans and harms some of our nation’s most vital institutions.
If the president does not reverse the Department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.[...]
This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country must not stand, and will not stand.
While some polling shows the American people support the new requirement by a margin of 55% to 40%, the Administration has signaled that they don’t want this fight. David Axelrod indicated the White House would be open to finding a compromise, but as David Dayen points out, it seems unlikely opponents will accept one.