In a rare show of political force, House Speaker John A. Boehnertook to the House floor to criticize the Obama administration’s new rules on contraceptives and vowed the GOP-led chamber will work to overturn what he characterized as an attack on religious freedoms.
Boehner, a Catholic who opposes abortion in most circumstances, spoke as the chamber opened Wednesday, and said insurance plans offered by faith-based employers should not be required to provide birth control and other contraceptive services.
“In recent days, Americans of every faith and political persuasion have mobilized in objection to a rule put forth by the Obama administration that constitutes an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country,” Boehner said.
“If the president does not reverse the [Health and Human Services] 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,” he continued.
“This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand.”
The Obama administration’s decision has led to an outpouring of views on both sides of the issue, and comes as the Susan B. Komen organization came under political heat and reversed a position that barred funding for Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this week, a group of Democratic senators, mostly women, convened in that chamber to support the administration’s position.
“This is the 21st century – wake up,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), said during the speeches in the Senate. “Women ought to be respected and they ought to be trusted… We are not going quietly into the night on this one.”
The House plans to begin considering legislation that would roll back the administration’s new policy, though such legislation would likely face an uphill climb in the Democratic-controlled Senate.