WASHINGTON — Oklahoma's senators have signed on to a bill aimed at reversing the Obama administration's decision to require hospitals, universities and other entities with a religious affiliation to cover contraception services as part of employees' health benefits.
Sens. Tom Coburn, R-
Inhofe said the administration's policy was “an unconstitutional government intrusion against religious freedom.”
“In the past, Congress has acted to safeguard health care providers' freedom of expression and action, and it is time for Congress to once again act, placing a check on President Obama's abuse of power,” Inhofe said.
Other Oklahoma lawmakers signed a letter this week to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius protesting the policy, which exempts churches and gives other employers, such as hospitals and universities, until August 2013 to comply with the law.
Rep. John Sullivan, R-
Catholic leaders have been particularly vocal in their opposition to the policy. Officials with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said the mandate would force coverage of sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs.
Leaders said, “Catholics of all political persuasions are unified in their opposition to the mandate.”
But Planned Parenthood pointed to new polls by Public Policy Polling and the Public Religion Research Institute that showed a majority of Cath
Comments Tuesday from David Axelrod, a top official with President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, suggested the administration may look for a compromise.
Appearing on MSNBC, Axelrod said, “We certainly don't want to abridge anyone's religious freedoms, so we're going to look for a way to move forward that both provides women with the preventive care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the administration had clearly stated that it would be working with the organizations and individuals who would be affected by the rule.
Carney said Obama “is very interested in finding the appropriate balance between religious beliefs and convictions — and he takes those very seriously — and his commitment to making sure that women of all faiths have access to these important health care preventive services. So that process will continue.”