New Hampshire has had a law on the books for 12 years requiring insurers' prescription drug plans to cover birth control, and it hasn't drawn the slightest bit of controversy—until now. With contraception suddenly a national issue, Republicans are trying to add a religious exemption to the mandate, NPR reports. "The Obama administration is trying to divide this country and to divide women against Catholics," the House speaker said, touting the change as "a way of guaranteeing religious freedom."
The mandate was originally passed by a Republican legislature back in 2000, with bipartisan support. "There was not one comment about religious freedoms," says its Democratic co-sponsor. But Catholic leaders are jumping behind the effort to change the rule now. "We didn't have a full-time lobbyist in the Legislature" in 1999, the Catholic Diocese of Manchester's chancellor says. "It's possible that it was missed." But critics say the exemption is too broad, and the New Hampshire Civil Liberties Union says it'll fight the change.