Congressman compares free contraception Pearl Harbor
President Barack Obama pauses while announcing the revamp of his contraception policy requiring religious institutions to fully pay for birth control, Friday, Feb. 10, 2012, in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Published Thursday, August 2, 2012 8:56AM EDT
As millions of American women gained access to free birth control, a Republican congressman said the milestone was an attack on religious freedom tantamount to 9-11 and Pearl Harbor.
“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked,” Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly said in a news conference at Capitol Hill Wednesday, MSNBC reported.
“One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”
The new rules require that policies provided by private health insurance companies pay for a list of women’s health preventative services.
The reform took effect Wednesday and was celebrated by many women on Twitter and other social media platforms.
In addition to birth control pills, it grants some 47 million women enrolled in workplace health insurance access to free emergency contraception, Pap smears, mammograms, supplies for pregnancy-related diabetes, breastfeeding support, STD counseling, domestic violence screening and HPV testing for women over 30.
However, many may face a delay in taking advantage of the free drugs and services.
The rules apply to all new plans, but only go into effect for existing plans once they are renewed.
U.S. President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act reform is based on guidelines from the independent Institute of Medicine, which said paying for these services will save money and lives down the road.
Republicans have said the law forces employers who are religious conservatives to act in a way that contradicts their beliefs. Some are disturbed by the requirement to provide free morning-after pills or emergency contraception, equating the medication to an abortion despite the fact that it does not terminate a pregnancy.
As the issue exploded into a political nightmare for Obama earlier in the year, he announced a compromise.
Women will still get guaranteed access to birth control without any payment no matter where they work, an element of the health care law that he insisted must remain.
But religious universities and hospitals that see contraception as an unconscionable violation of their faith can refuse to cover it, and insurance companies will then have to step in to do so.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in a Washington news conference in February that if elected, "I will reverse every single Obama regulation that attacks our religious liberty and threatens innocent life in this country."
With files from The Associated Press