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In-house opposition

Healthcare Mandate | Leading Democrats voice opposition to Obama mandate

Issue: "Medical care circus," Feb. 25, 2012

Former Obama administration official Doug Kmiec announced this month that he is potentially "without a candidate" in 2012-joining other leading Democrats who oppose President Obama's decision that religious organizations aside from churches under the new healthcare law must cover contraceptives purchases by employees, including the abortifacients Plan B and Ella.

Kmiec, who served as Obama's ambassador to Malta, is now a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University. He was one of the most prominent Catholic supporters of Obama in 2008, and was refused communion for it. "Today, sir, I ask you no longer as an ambassador, but simply as a friend, why put the cold calculus of politics above faith and freedom?" he wrote the president in a letter in early February.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey also wrote to the president in early February urging him to reverse course. "I have strongly supported efforts to provide greater access to contraception," he wrote, "And I also believe, just as strongly, that religiously-affiliated organizations like hospitals and universities should not be compelled by our federal government to purchase insurance policies that violate their religious and moral convictions." Former Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine, who headed the Democratic National Committee until last year, also criticized the decision, saying the exemption for religious groups should be broader.

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Republican wheels of Congress also are turning over the controversial decision: Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, introduced parallel bills to overturn the mandate. Other Republicans in both the House and Senate introduced a bill to block the contraceptive mandate almost a year ago, but that legislation has sat in committee. White House press secretary Jay Carney has said the administration is still open to "discussion" over the mandate, but when a reporter asked if the administration would reconsider the decision, he said no: "The president is committed to making sure that all women have access to these important preventive services."

Emily Belz
Emily Belz

Emily, who has covered everything from political infighting to pet salons for The Indianapolis Star, The Hill, and the New York Daily News, reports for WORLD from New York City. Follow Emily on Twitter @emlybelz.

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