Never one to shun the spotlight, US Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Butler, is back in the headlines today.
A House Republican lawmaker likened the implementation of a new mandate that insurers offer coverage for contraceptive services to Pearl Harbor and the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks against the United States.
Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly (R), an ardent opponent of abortion rights, said that today's date would live in infamy alongside those two other historic occasions. Wednesday marked the day on which a controversial new requirement by the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires health insurance companies to cover contraceptive services for women, goes into effect.
"I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that's Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that's the day of the terrorist attack," Kelly said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates."
UPDATE: Kelly's Democratic challenger Missa Eaton says Kelly owes 9/11 and Pearl Harbor survivors an apology. Her statement:
"First and foremost, Mike Kelly must absolutely apologize to the victims and families affected by the horrible attacks on Pearl Harbor and on 9/11. The comparison is ludicrous and compares foreign acts of aggression upon our nation to a piece of domestic legislation that sincerely tries to provide women with access to quality, affordable healthcare."
UPDATE 2. Kelly's official statement is after the jump:
Washington, D.C. –Representative Mike Kelly led a GOP Freshman Class press conference today marking day one of the controversial HHS mandate, which will require all non-exempt employers to provide health care coverage that includes abortion-inducing drugs or else pay a steep tax. For the millions of Americans who oppose this unconstitutional policy, August 1, 2012, will be known as the day religious freedom died.
According to the Congressional Research Service, insurers and employers that do not comply with the HHS mandate could face a federal tax of $100 per day per employee, or a yearly tax of $36,500 per employee. So if you're a small business owner who believes that these drugs violate your religious beliefs, you will be forced to choose between following your conscience or paying a punishing tax. If you employ only 50 people, that could mean a payout to the government of up to $1,825,000 each year. For many who are already struggling to survive in this Obama Economy, that is simply no choice at all.
Rep. Kelly issued the following statement:
"We need to stop worrying about political correctness and worry about correcting the politics of Washington before our constitutional rights continue to erode before our eyes. It's time to turn the tide and turn back the unconstitutional HHS mandate, which is an undeniable and unprecedented attack on Americans' First Amendment rights.
"Our freedoms and way of life have been under attack before, from both internal and external threats. If we fail to defend our constitutional rights, we risk losing the freedoms that so many brave men and women have given their lives to defend throughout the course of our nation's history.
"We will not turn a blind eye to the HHS mandate's attack on our religious freedom and we will work to stop this unconstitutional mandate from taking away our God-given and constitutionally protected rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."