There is a war on religion occurring that is led by the Obama administration. Well, that’s what Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich and followers of the modern-day Republican Party believe. The only problem is, I don’t see it. Instead, I find myself witnessing a party and its representatives committing an unprecedented attack on women’s rights and health care.
Last month, a health care reform mandate that requires women receive contraceptive benefits without deductibles or co-pays to be paid through employers caused an uproar among Republicans and church members. The mandate exempted churches but not religious affiliated institutions such as hospitals and schools, which employ individuals from the public sector.
This is not a new concept. In fact, twenty-eight states already have similar laws in place, with a percentage of those not offering an exemption for religious affiliated schools or hospitals.
However, after the sudden backlash from religious groups (specifically, the Catholic church), the White House quickly amended the mandate so insurance companies would cover the cost of female contraception rather than a religious-affiliated employer.
Everybody should be fine with this compromise; however, that’s not the case. There are still lawsuits going forward from four religious colleges who feel the mandate goes against their belief that contraception is immoral. Just last Sunday, Chicago Archbishop Francis George blasted the mandate again, implying that the administration was infringing upon the Catholic Church’s religion by forcing affiliated employers to pay for birth control, which if you have been reading this far you simply know that is not true.
What these groups don’t realize or are simply choosing to ignore, is that birth control is used for many reasons. There are many women that use contraception to regulate their period, prevent cervical cancer or ovarian cysts, among other medical issues. Somebody should also remind the GOP and its more dedicated followers that contraception significantly decreases the number of abortions in the country.
To the dismay of the Archbishop and the conservatives, a majority of Americans are for the contraception mandate. A New York Times/CBS News poll showed that 65% of voters are in favor of the mandate to cover birth control and 59% are in favor of religiously affiliated employers covering birth control through health insurance plans. The poll also shows 57% of Catholic voters are in favor of religious-affiliated employers’ health insurance plans covering contraception.
Republican candidate Rick Santorum has spoken very publicly in regards to contraception saying, “It’s not OK. It’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” That sounds spectacular. Considering the conservatives have not attacked the insurance companies for covering Viagra, one can only assume the blue pill does not come with a golden ticket into Santorum’s ‘sexual realm’.
This is the panel assembled by Republican Darrell Issa that was brought in to begin discussions on the birth control mandate (once again, post compromise). It looks like Mr. Issa forgot to add a woman to the panel. However Issa did not forget to block the testimony of Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown student who would have spoken in favor of the mandate if she were given the chance. Darrell Issa, straight up chucklehead.
Once again, this is over contraception, not abortion. You have to wonder how the GOP decides which social issues to run into battle with, I imagine its similar to South Park’s depiction of the Family Guy writer’s room (which consisted of a team of manatees that would choose five random “idea balls” and push them into a compartment that formed their next scene).
Not that the conservatives have forgotten about abortion. Look no further than the Susan B. Anthony pledge to see if your favorite batshit crazy GOPer has signed the pledge to restrict women’s rights. Signees of the pledge include Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul (yes, Ron Paul), Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain & Rick Perry among others. You can find the details to the anti-abortion pledge here.
You may have noticed the absence of Romney’s name above. Not to worry, he detests women’s health just as much as the other guys (at least today he does). Romney seeks to lower government spending by defunding the debt crater Planned Parenthood. Beyond providing abortion procedures (which only accounts for 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services a year), Planned Parenthood offers many more services to women and families, including contraception, STD awareness, menopause treatments, cancer screenings and more. Romney is not done yet; he also has his sights set on withdrawing funds from the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides contraception and other health care services to lower income earners.
Then we have the Republican supported Blunt amendment, which the Senate shot down yesterday. In yet another example of the GOP being out of touch with the issues that are most concerning to Americans (the economy, unemployment), the Blunt amendment would give employers the option to bail out of providing contraception and other health services if they found them morally objectionable. Romney somehow found a way to flip flop on his opinion of the amendment in less than 24 hours. To quote Darth Vader, “Impressive. Most impressive.”
You don’t see the Hindus protesting employers for covering treatments that require insulin, which comes from cows (a sacred holy animal in the Hindu religion). The fact that the conservatives and in particular the Catholic church, feel the nation’s citizens should be forced to live under their view point in regards to contraception is incredibly disturbing to me.
In what is easily the most horrific and offensive proposed law introduced and supported by the GOP, came out of Virginia. The Virginia state Legislature passed a bill that would require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion. To be clear, under the bill women would be forced to a transvaginal probe in order to receive the abortion procedure. This is a completely unnecessary medical procedure before an abortion. In another disturbing part of the bill, the doctor would certify for the woman’s medical record whether she listened to the heartbeat or viewed the ultrasound. Thankfully, this was voted down in the Virginia State Senate recently.
I find it absolutely absurd that in the year 2012, we are even having a debate on women’s contraception coverage in a presidential election. Considering that twenty-eight states already had similar laws in place prior to the mandate without the Catholic Church or conservatives creating a stir and a majority of the public is in favor of covered contraception plans, the GOP candidates appear more as opportunists catering for conservative votes than true defenders of religion.