Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released a new television advertisement that appears to appeal largely to Catholic voters in advance of the November election. In the 30-second spot, Romney trashes President Obama's health care reform law that requires religious institutions, such as Catholic schools, universities and hospitals to offer their employees free access to contraception and abortifacients (such as the so-called 'morning-after' pill) despite doctrinal opposition to such services.
Romney bashed Obama during the primary season on the issue. Since then, Obama reacted to the uproar by approving an "accommodation" that exempted narrowly-defined religious institutions from the rule by allowing women to get free birth control directly from their insurance provider.
The narrator in the ad begins by asking, "Who shares your values?" The narrator continues, saying "President Obama used his health care plan to declare war on religion, forcing religious institutions to go against their faith," the ad says. "Mitt Romney believes that's wrong."
The spot features footage of Romney, a Mormon, on his recent visit to Poland - the homeland of the wildly popular Pope John Paul II, who was revered by Catholics and non-Catholics. It also features Romney's visit with former Polish President Lech Walesa, who the ad notes, has endorsed Romney. In the ad, remarks Romney made in Warsaw about the 1979 Mass celebrated by John Paul II in which the Polish pontiff told the assembled thousands "Be not afraid," in which he quoted Scripture to embolden his countrymen in their resistance to communism and the threat of Soviet invasion. Finally, the ad asks "When religious freedom is threatened, who do you want to stand with?"
Numerous Catholic bishops have called upon Obama and Congress to alter the health care reform that they say endangers constitutionally protected freedoms. To this end, Catholics engaged in what the bishops called a 'Fortnight of Freedom' in June to fast and pray, while also pressuring their congressmen to change the law.