President Obama “reinforced” his stance on the controversial contraception mandate while speaking at the Democrats’ annual retreat at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. today, Senate Democrats said.
The retreat was closed to media.
Following President Obama’s speech at the retreat, a small group of Senate Democrats, mostly women, left the retreat early in order to hold a news conference on Capitol Hill to counter the Republicans’ news conference today at which they called for the mandate to be overturned.
Democrats said they will “fight strongly” to keep the mandate in place.
“It is our clear understanding from the administration that the president believes as we do, and the vast majority of the American women should have access to birth control,” Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said pointing out that 15 percent of women use birth control for medical issues. “It’s medicine, and women deserve their medicine.”
Democrats today called on Republicans to stop using women as a “political football,” and stop defining this debate, as Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., did earlier in the day, as a religious issue.
“It’s time to tell Republicans ‘mind your own business,’” said Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J. ”Ideology should never be used to block women from getting the care they need to lead healthier lives.
“The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman – not her boss,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y. “What is more intrusive than trying to allow an employer to make medical decisions for someone who works for them?”
Sen. Patty Murray, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, was asked if she was concerned about some Democrats, such as Tim Kaine, the former DNC chairman and Virginia governor now running for a Virginia Senate seat, disagreeing with parts of the White House’s decision. Kaine supports the mandate but said yesterday that the White House made a “bad decision” in not allowing a broad enough religious employer exemption.
“I know that our candidates know their states and they know their own beliefs, and I back them in doing that,” Murray responded today.