Mitt Romney’s Shocking Hypocrisy on Birth Control

A Record of ‘Very Cynical and Tactical Manipulation’

Mitt Romney is traveling the country making the ridiculous accusation that President Obama is waging a war on religious liberty.  As we discussed last week, these histrionic attacks on the president and the policy of providing affordable access to birth control to all women have no basis in fact.

Let’s explore the depths of Mitt Romney’s shocking hypocrisy on this vital issue.

Romney Eliminated Religious Exemptions While Governor of Massachusetts

ThinkProgress Igor Volsky has the details on Romney’s serial hypocrisy on the issue of contraception:

In 2002 — the very same year Romney campaigned for governor of Massachusetts — the state enacted a “contraceptive equity” law that required insurers that provide outpatient benefits to cover hormone replacement therapy and all FDA-approved contraceptive methods. Similar to the Obama regulation, the law exempted “an employer that is a church or qualified church-controlled organization” from the requirement and the legislature soundly defeated an amendment that “would have allowed affiliated institutions such as hospitals, universities, and nursing homes to deny their employees coverage.” The defeated amendment closely mirrors the expanded conscience protections religious groups are now clamoring for.

Romney remained mum on the requirement — which passed unanimously in the Senate and in a 140 to 16 vote in the House — and pledged to maintain the status quo on family-planning related policy throughout his gubernatorial campaign. He even promised to expand access to emergency contraception and restore state funding for family-planning and teen pregnancy prevention programs.

After all, before deciding to run for President, Romney had been a strong supporter of expanding public access to birth control. In 2007, the Boston Globe reported that “Romney’s wife, Ann, made a $150 contribution to Planned Parenthood in 1994, the year Romney ran for Senate as a candidate supporting abortion rights” from “the Romneys’ joint checking account.” And in 2005, he “signed a bill that could expand the number of people who get family-planning services, including the morning-after pill.” Romney even pressured the state Department of Health and Human Services to issue regulations that required Catholic hospitals to issue the morning after pill to rape victims, despite initially vetoing the bill and claiming that the pill constituted an “abortifacient.”

A recent Boston Globe article outlining how Romney’s previous position on contraception was very similar to the president’s current position also included a forceful denunciation of Romney from C.J. Doyle of the Catholic Action League:

Doyle, of the Catholic Action League, said that Romney should have fought harder to reinstate the religious exemption and that he now doubts Romney’s sincerity in advocating for religious freedom if he becomes president.

“Governor Romney afterwards lamented that and campaigned around the country as someone in favor of religious freedom and traditional morality,’’ Doyle said. “He is very consistent at working both sides of the street on the same issue at the same time. His record on this issue has been one of very cynical and tactical manipulation.’’

Romney Denounces Birth Control as Abortion — All While Profiting From Its Sale

In addition to denouncing the president, Mitt Romney has also taken to denouncing the morning after pill as an “abortive pill.” This is completely inaccurate as the morning after pill works just like regular birth control.  Here’s Romney two days ago in Colorado:

This same administration said that the churches and the institutions they run, such as schools and let’s say adoption agencies, hospitals, that they have to provide for their employees free of charge, contraceptives, morning after pills, in other words abortive pills, and the like at no cost. Think what that does to people in faiths that do not share those views. This is a violation of conscience.

Romney’s denunciations of common forms of birth control apparently do not stop Romney from owning stock in multiple contraception manufacturers, including one who manufactures NINE different types of morning after pills — the same pills that Romney tells conservative voters are “abortive pills.”  Here’s a look at Romney’s hypocritical investments:

Romney’s Goldman Sachs 2002 Exchange Place Fund, valued at over a million dollars in 2010, brought in nearly $600,000 in gains in 2010 and is invested in:

– Watson Pharmaceuticals: manufacturer of nine forms of emergency contraception (which Romney incorrectly identifies as “abortifacients“).
– Johnson & Johnson: launched the first U.S. prescription birth control product in 1931 and produces various forms of birth control.
– Merck: produces various forms of birth control
– Mylan: produces birth control medication and filed the first application for a generic birth control pill last year.
– Pfizer: a contraception producer that recently had to recall about a million packs of birth-control pills that weren’t packaged correctly.

There’s nothing wrong with Mitt Romney or anyone else owning stock in contraception manufacturers. Contraception is an important, accepted, widely-used, and heretofore largely non-controversial aspect of modern life in America, which is why the president moved forward with plans to guarantee that all women have affordable access to birth control.

What is wrong is playing cynical political games with basic women’s health care, including affordable access to birth control.

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