During the second presidential debate between incumbent Barack Obama and his Republican contender Mitt Romney, both agreed that employers should be mandated to provide contraception coverage to their staff.
The debate was held Tuesday night at Hofstra University near Long Island, New York, and was moderated by CNN’s Candy Crowley.
While the night centered mostly on taxes, the deficit and lowering gas prices, in answering a question about pay equity for women in the workforce, Obama began to segue into discussion about contraception.
“[A] major difference in this campaign is that Governor Romney feels comfortable having politicians in Washington decide the health care choices that women are making. I think that’s a mistake,” he said. “In my health care bill, I said insurance companies need to provide contraceptive coverage to everybody who is insured, because this is not just a health issue; it’s an economic issue for women. It makes a difference. This is money out of that family’s pocket.”
“Governor Romney not only opposed it; he suggested that, in fact, employers should be able to make the decision as to whether or not a woman gets contraception through her insurance coverage,” Obama continued. “That’s not the kind of advocacy that women need.”
When Romney was granted his turn to speak, and was presented a question by an audience member as to how he differs from former president George W. Bush, he stated that he wished to first clarify Obama’s remark. Romney advised that Obama had mischaracterized the Republican candidate’s views on contraception, as he does indeed support their use and believes that employers should be mandated to provide them.
“I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not, and I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not,” Romney noted. “Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”
“And the president’s statement of my policy is completely and totally wrong,” he added.
As previously reported, Romney had made a similar statement in January during a Republican primary debate.
“I can’t imagine a state banning contraception. I can’t imagine the circumstances where a state would want to do so, and if I were a governor of a state or a state legislature, I would totally and completely oppose any effort to ban contraception,” he outlined.
Romney also reportedly attended a fundraiser with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the manufacturer of the morning-after pill, in May of this year.
Since the official enactment of Obamacare this past August, which mandates that employers provide contraceptive coverage to all staff members, over 20 faith-based groups, including Christian and Catholic organizations, have filed lawsuits over the requirement.
As previously reported, Lousiana College of Pineville, Louisiana, and Geneva College near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are among those that have vowed to fight the government mandate.
“If the government continues to say that we have to do this, we will not do it,” Louisana College President Joe Aguillard stated. “There’s going to be, in my opinion, a constitutional crisis. We’re not going to do it.”
Hobby Lobby was also the first evangelical business to sue against the mandate, although the lawsuit only challenges certain drugs that the company considers to be abortifacients, since it already provides birth control to its employees.
Obama opined Tuesday night that he believed that Obamacare and Romneycare are practically identical.
“When [Congress] said, ‘We’re going to repeal Obamacare,’ … despite the fact that it’s the same health care plan that he passed in Massachusetts and is working well, he said, ‘Me too,'” Obama remarked.
Romney advised that his primary contention with Obamacare was its effect on the job market.
“[T]he thing I find most troubling about Obamacare — Well, it’s a long list, but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people,” he stated, moving on from the contraception discussion.
“My priority is jobs,” Romney told the audience. “I know how to make that happen.”
During the debate, Obama also cited the abortion giant Planned Parenthood on several occasions.
“Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood. There are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care,” he said, just minutes before Romney clarified his views on contraceptives. “They rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings. That’s a pocketbook issue for women and families all across the country.”
However, many point out that Planned Parenthood does not themselves perform any mammograms or cancer screenings, but instead offers referrals to other medical facilities where clients may obtain services.
“When they said, ‘We’re going to cut Planned Parenthood funding,’ he said, ‘Me too,”” Obama stated on another occasion, referring to Romney. “George Bush never suggested that we eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.”
The debate lasted for over 90 minutes, and throughout the discussion, a number of audience members stood up to present their questions directly to the candidates.
The next and final debate before the election will be held next Monday at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida.