By Alysha Bohanon
The recent Obama administration rule requiring all employers, including religious-affiliated organizations, to provide health insurance plans that offer free birth control to women has many legislatures up in arms, news sources report.
The requirement was issued last month as part of Obama's health care overhaul. Church-affiliated organizations were given an extra year to comply with the mandate, but the White House has still been facing intense pressure, the Washington Post reports.
After growing outcry from religious leaders, the Obama administration sought a compromise by promising to "explore ways to make it more palatable to religious-affiliated institutions," such as allowing such institutions to make these insurance plans available to employees but not directly paying for the contraception aspect of the plan, according to the New York Times.
Congressional Republicans seized the opportunity to act on the kind of social issue that motivates unifies their base, another article by the New York Times reported. "The fight over the contraception rule offered a possible way to regain their political footing . . . It is potentially a powerful wedge issue that could unite what has been a fractured conference."
But Republicans have not been the only legislatures to voice their disagreement with the measure. Many Democrats are deeply divided about the issue as well.
"This is not only unacceptable, it is un-American," the Washington Post quoted Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., as saying.
The Washington Post also suggests that certain Democrat's break from their party could have to do with the upcoming election season. Manchin is a Catholic up for re-election this November, and West Virginia is a very religious state. According to the Washington Post, the political upside for Manchin and other critics of the mandate is a fresh opportunity to show their independence from the president.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida introduced a new bill Thursday to expand the religious exemption and undo the Obama policy by allowing religious organizations to opt out of providing health care benefits to which they had a conscientious objection, according to the New York Times.
But not all Democrats are opposed to the mandate.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., on Thursday promised a "fierce debate on women's rights if Republicans tried to repeal the policy," the Washington Post reported.
"We're here to stand up for the women of America who deserve to have access to free preventive care through their health insurance," Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said, according to the Washington Post.