The White House is pushing back against Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s condemnation of President Obama’s recent mandate for insurance coverage of contraceptives as part of the new health-care law.
White House spokesman Jay Carney on Wednesday called Mr. Romney an “odd messenger” to be criticizing Mr. Obama over the issue, considering he followed a similar policy in Massachusetts when Mr. Romney served as governor.
The contraception controversy came up more than a week ago when Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced a new mandate refusing to exempt church-affiliated employers such as hospitals or charities from providing birth-control coverage, even if doing so would run afoul of the umbrella organization’s religious beliefs. The Catholic Church and even some prominent liberal Catholics have slammed the ruling.
Mr. Romney said the president’s policy amounts to an “assault on religion,” and Mr. Carney responded that the former Massachusetts governor’s comments were “ironic,” considering his tolerance for what he called a virtually “identical” policy in that state.
The White House is trying to find a compromise solution to address Catholics’ concerns, Mr. Carney said.
But at a campaign stop in Georgia, Mr. Romney said Mr. Carney had gotten his facts wrong, that the contraception provision in the Massachusetts health-care law was put in place before Mr. Romney was elected governor and he worked to remove it.
“Mr. Carney needs to check his history,” Mr. Romney said. “So in the working on our health care plan, I worked very hard to get the legislature to remove all of the mandated coverages, including contraception. So, quite clearly, he needs to understand that was a provision that got there before I did, and it was one I fought to remove.”