March 22, 2012 ( – Former GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has criticized his party for waging a “war on women” based on their reaction to the Obama administration’s mandate that will force religious institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacient drugs and sterilization.

In response to a question from Meet the Press moderator David Gregory , who asked if there was “something of a war on women among Republicans” during an interview Sunday, the Arizona senator said “we have to fix that.”


“I think that there is a perception out there because of how this whole contraception issue played out — ah, we need to get off of that issue, in my view,” said McCain. “I think we ought to respect the right of women to make choices in their lives and make that clear, and get back onto what the American people really care about.”

McCain gave the remarks weeks after backing an amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would have restored to employers the right to opt out of paying for employees’ birth control, a measure that was voted down.

However, McCain has welcomed the fact that a measure in his home state to allow employers to decline to cover contraceptive pills not used for medical reasons will likely be voted down. The bill stalled in the state Senate this week, but supporters say they will try to address the medical privacy concerns that have been voiced by McCain and Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer.

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GOP leaders in both the U.S. Senate and the House have vowed to fight the mandate that has sparked a firestorm of grassroots opposition in Catholic and Christian churches across the U.S. Protests in at least 129 U.S. cities are planned for Friday against the mandate, which has also earned condemnation from every bishop heading a Catholic diocese in the U.S.

“If the state is allowed to violate the religious rights of one religion, then surely it can violate those of others,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last month of the mandate. “If the rights of some are not protected, the rights of all are in danger.”


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