By Alicia M. Cohn - 03/02/12 01:49 PM EST
Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) says the fight over the contraception mandate is "silly."
"I think it's a rather silly argument about who's going to get free birth-control pills," the GOP presidential candidate told CNN's Piers Morgan on Thursday night. "That is way beyond the pale, as far as I'm concerned."
Churches and houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, and the Obama administration offered an accomodation that allows religiously-affiliated institutions to not offer the birth control, though their employees would still be able to get it from the employer's insurer.
Critics say that's still an infringement on religious freedom, but a Senate measure weakening the mandate was shot down in the upper chamber on Thursday.
Paul and all of the other GOP presidential candidates criticized the proposed mandate as an attack on religious liberty. But Paul on Thursday also criticized it as an attempt to push the market out of the insurance business.
"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," he
said. "I remember when I first bought my first insurance coverage, the
question was, 'Do you want OB 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
"I just don't like the government in this business," continued Paul, a doctor who previously worked as an obstetrician-gynecologist.