Mitt Romney rips President Obama on birth control, attack on 'religious liberty'

Mitt Romney rips President Obama on birth control, attack on 'religious liberty'

Mitt Romney launched a petition on Monday against a new Obama administration mandate that will force employers, including religious institutions such as Catholic schools, to provide health insurance covering contraception.

Romney blasted the recently announced requirement as part of a series of “attacks on religious liberty” by the administration.

“If you’ve had enough of the Obama Administration’s attacks on religious liberty, stand with me & sign the petition,” he wrote on Twitter.

The petition, offered on Romney’s campaign website, warns that the rule seeks to “impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away.”

Obama’s reelection campaign immediately pushed back with a tweet from deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, who said Romney’s policies as governor of Massachusetts were “identical” to those of the administration.

“@mittromney sends petition [against] Obama admin decision on birth control,” Cutter tweeted. “Hope petition signers don't find out Mitts MA policies are identical.”

Ben LaBolt, Obama’s campaign press secretary, re-tweeted Cutter.

Romney and other GOP presidential candidates are ramping up attacks on what they say is an assault on religious liberty by President Obama.

The rule that religious organizations must provide contraceptive coverage for their employees has been ripped by the Catholic Church and prominent Catholic politicians, and is threatening to become a political problem for Obama during his reelection bid.

High-profile Republicans including House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Senators unveil bipartisan push to deter future election interference Puerto Rico's children need recovery funds MORE (R-Fla.) have blasted the new mandate as “unconstitutional,” and priests in a number of parishes earlier this month read a protest of the decision from Catholic bishops.

Their criticism stems from the fact that under the new rule, religious institutions that might oppose contraception, such as Catholic universities and hospitals, will have to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees. Churches are exempted from the policy.

The new attack from Romney suggests the debate could be an issue in the presidential race.

The White House reaffirmed the rule in January, and White House press secretary Jay Carney defended it last week.

“I don’t believe there are any constitutional rights issues here,” Carney said. “I understand that there’s controversy and we understand that and we will continue to work with religious groups to discuss their concerns.”