Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says the federal government should not have the power to force a faith-based organization to pay for contraception the religious group “teaches is wrong” and he hopes the Obama administration will bow to growing pressure and reverse its rule that would require hospitals and other religious institutions to provide birth control in healthcare insurance.
Rubio also told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren Wednesday legislation he has penned — the Religious Freedom Act of 2012 — will ensure the Catholic Church can exercise its First Amendment rights.
“The fundamental question is should the federal government have the power to tell a religious organization that they have to pay for something that the religious organization teaches is wrong — and that’s what we have here,” Rubio said. “This is not about contraception, it’s not about social issues — this a very simple constitutional principle. We have religious protections as part of our Constitution in the First Amendment, the right to express yourself religiously.
“You have in the case — the specific case of this bill — the Catholic church that teaches its members that the use of contraception is wrong. You can disagree with that,” the Florida Republican said. “But the bottom line is: Should the federal government be able to go in and force them to pay for contraception, something they teach is wrong? The answer is no. That’s protected under the Constitution — and what I hope is the president will reconsider — but if he doesn’t, we have a bill to fix it.”
Rubio said he has heard reports that even those within President Barack Obama’s inner circle — including Vice President Joe Biden — are against the rule and there is considerable pressure for the president to repeal the requirement.
“I hope that they’ll reconsider and say: ‘You know what? We've heard from a bunch of people. Maybe we overreached here.’ My understanding from press reports is that there were actually people in his administration — I think one of them was Vice President Biden — that advised him against doing this, that this was an overreach,: Rubio said. “You’ve had some liberal commentators write that this was an overreach.
“So look, there’s nothing wrong with changing your mind if you — once you get this public input,” he said. “I think they’re getting a lot of public input that this is a bad idea — I hope they don’t dig in. I hope they'll reconsider — there are plenty of other issues for us to debate.”
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