Newt Gingrich upped his attacks against President Obama today over his administration’s requirement that some religious hospitals offer birth control under the new health care law.
Gingrich’s comments come after a week of outrage from the Catholic Church and his fellow GOP presidential candidates over the policy, which mandates that religious hospitals, charities and schools include co-pay-free birth control in their health care plans.
“This is a tremendous infringement of religious liberty,” Newt Gingrich said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Every time you turn around the secular government is shrinking the rights of religious institutions in America.”
While the policy was proposed in August, the issue resurfaced last week after Catholic churches across America read letters from the church’s leadership last Sunday condemning the administration’s policy.
Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz pushed back against the church’s letter, saying the policy does not force anyone to buy our use contraception.
“This new law will save money for millions of Americans,” Muñoz wrote Wednesday in a White House blog post. “But more importantly, it will ensure Americans nationwide get the high-quality care they need to stay healthy. The Obama Administration is committed to both respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services.”
The church’s letters came in response to a Jan. 20 announcement that Catholic hospitals where the majority of employees are not Catholic will be required under the new law to provide free contraception.
“The fact is what you’re saying is there cannot be a genuine Catholic hospital,” said Gingrich, who converted to Catholicism in 2009. “It will have to be subordinated to a secular government.”
Gingrich, also appearing today on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” added that the policy proved that the Obama administration was at “war” with the Catholic church and launching “the most outrageous assault on religious freedom in American history.”
The former House speaker said policies such as this prove that Obama is “so unacceptable” that he will support his rival Mitt Romney in the general election if the former Massachusetts governor is the Republican nominee.
“I believe President Obama is such a direct threat to the future of this country that I will support the Republican nominee because I believe that President Obama is a disaster,” Gingrich said.
But with the primary season still raging on, Gingrich vowed that his campaign was nowhere near over.
The former speaker finished a distant second behind Romney Saturday in the Nevada caucuses, but said today on “Meet the Press” that he will be in “much more favorable territory” by Super Tuesday, when his home state of Georgia goes to the polls.
Gingrich vowed that “by the time Texas is over, we’ll be very, very competitive in delegate count.”
Texas’s primary is currently set for April 3, but a Supreme Court legal battle over the Lone Star state’s redistricting maps threatens to delay the primary until later in the year.