Mitt Romney waffled today on a senate proposal that would repeal President Obama’s controversial requirement that insurance companies cover contraception for women employees.
During an interview with the Ohio News Network, Romney said he did not back a proposal by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt, who has endorsed Romney, that would allow employers to opt out of providing coverage for birth control. Romney said he didn’t want to belabor the contraception issue. But his campaign quickly clarified.
“I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there,” Romney said, later adding, “You know, I made it very clear when I was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos in a debate a while ago: contraception is working just fine, let’s just leave it alone.”
A separate measure is being offered by Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., that is seen as a more narrow version that more moderates will support. The two amendments were conflated in the question to Romney.
But Romney’s campaign quickly sent a clarifying message that the former Massachusetts Governor does in fact support the bill and the question from Ohio News Network reporter Jim Heath.
“Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith,” said Andrea Saul, Romney’s spokesperson.
The measure sponsored by Blunt would give enable any employer, even those not affiliated with a religious institution, the ability to not provide health insurance that covers birth control. The measure sponsored by Rubio gives an exemption only to employers with religious affiliations.
If passed, the amendment would allow any employer or any insurer in America to be given an exemption to not cover contraception – or any service they choose – based “religious belief or moral conviction.”
ABC News Emily Friedman and Sunlen Miller contributed to this report.
Below is the full exchange between Romney and Heath. Watch it here.
HEATH: “He’s brought contraception into this campaign. The issue of birth control, contraception, Blunt-Rubio is being debated, I believe, later this week. It deals with banning or allowing employers to ban providing female contraception. Have you taken a position on it? He (Santorum) said he was for that, we’ll talk about personhood in a second; but he’s for that, have you taken a position?”
ROMNEY: “I’m not for the bill, but look, the idea of presidential candidates getting into questions about contraception within a relationship between a man and a women, husband and wife, I’m not going there.”
HEATH: “Surprised that he went there?”
ROMNEY: “You know, I made it very clear when I was being interviewed by George Stephanopoulos in a debate a while ago: contraception is working just fine, let’s just leave it alone.”
HEATH: “And the Personhood Amendment could potentially be on the ballot in Ohio this fall. What’s your position on this effort, Personhood?”
ROMNEY: “Well it’s interpreted differently by different states, so I’d have to look at the particular provision. We had a provision in my state that said that life began at conception, that’s a provision that I protected. The legislature passed a bill saying that no longer would life be determined to begin at conception, I vetoed that. So we can have a provision that describes life beginning when it in fact begins. At the same time, allowing people to have contraceptives.”