Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign says he does support an amendment that would overturn the White House’s controversial contraception mandate, following an interview in which Romney said he would not vote for the proposal.
The Ohio News Network reported Wednesday that Romney had said he would not support Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) amendment, which is coming up in the Senate for a vote on Thursday. The measure would let employers opt out of healthcare mandates that violate their religious or moral beliefs, including the controversial contraception mandate.
Romney’s campaign quickly challenged the reporters’ interpretation.
“Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said.
The campaign provided a partial transcript of the interview, which shows that the reporter did not accurately describe the Blunt bill. It would let employers opt out of offering contraception, but would not ban birth control.
From the transcript provided by the campaign:
HEATH: “He’s brought contraception into this campaign. The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we’ll talk about personhood in a second; but he’s for that, have you taken a position?”
ROMNEY: “I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”
Blunt has endorsed Romney and is a prominent surrogate for his presidential campaign.
"I didn’t understand his question, of course I support the Blunt amendment. I thought he was talking about some state law that prevented people from getting contraception," Romney said in a later interview on the Howie Carr Show.
"Of course Roy Blunt who is my liaison to the Senate is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from Obamacare."
In early February, Romney blasted the recently announced requirement as part of a series of “attacks on religious liberty” by the administration.
Romney’s chief rival for the Republican presidential nomination, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, has been playing up the birth-control controversy on the campaign trail as he tries to appeal to social conservatives. And some Democrats are likely to break ranks and support Blunt’s amendment. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said Wednesday that he would support the proposal.
Blunt’s measure would go further than just the birth-control mandate — it would let employers opt out of any healthcare coverage requirement that violates their religious or moral beliefs.
Senate Democrats said Tuesday that up to 20 million women could lose access to healthcare services under the amendment.
—This story was originally posted at 4:50 p.m. and updated at 7:40 p.m.