Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul described the fight over the healthcare mandate which requires contraception to be offered to women free of charge as a “silly” distraction.
The Texas congressman told CNN’s Piers Morgan on Thursday that the whole issue was “a rather silly argument about who is going to get free birth-control pills”.
Under Mr. Obama‘s healthcare mandate, employers will be obliged to offer all forms of birth control which have received approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to their employees. Abortions, however, will not be included in the requirements.
Exemptions will be granted to churches. Church-affiliated institutions, however, will not be exempt and will be required to offer the birth control services through their insurance companies. Many church leaders have criticized the legislation because it compels those who are pro-life to still offer services which they strongly object to.
Last week, the Senate rejected a Republican amendment which would have allowed employers and health insurance companies to refuse to offer contraception services if they objected to do so on religious grounds.
The proposal, which was put forward by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), was backed by 45 Republicans and three Democratic senators: Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), and Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). Sen. Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote against the amendment.
The arguments put forward by those who opposed Sen. Blunt’s proposal were encapsulated in New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen‘s remarks. “The Blunt amendment would allow employers to deny virtually any preventive or essential health service based on a religious or moral objection. An employer could deny coverage of H.I.V./AIDS screenings, prenatal care for single mothers, mammograms, vaccinations for children, or even screenings for diabetes based on a moral objection to a perceived unhealthy lifestyle,” she said.
Dr. Paul also told CNN he did not wish to see the government involved “in this business” and that the mandate would damage existing health insurance companies and deter other firms from entering the market.
“To say that you have to have on this policy, with no increase in pricing, you’re going to give out birth control pills. That becomes a welfare issue and a mandate and a cost to the insurance policy,” Dr. Paul said. “I remember when I first bought my first insurance coverage, the question was, ‘Do you want OB [obstetrics] coverage in your policy?’ I said yes; they said, ‘Well, that will cost you so many more dollars per month.’ How can it be insurance if they don’t know what they’re insuring you for?” Dr. Paul asked.
The Texas congressman practised as an obstetrician-gynecologist from the 1960s to the 1980s.