Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Right's War on Women

I've just about had enough with the wingnuts' mealy-mouthed, duplicitous argument against offering contraceptive services to women who work for religious institutions. They're wrong. Plain & simple, they're wrong. Here's why:

If religious institutions want to act as employers in America, then they must obey the employment laws of this country. They must, in short, obey the Obama Administration's "decision to require religiously affiliated hospitals and universities to cover birth control in their insurance plans." Simple. No one is, as the Rude Pundit imagined, mandating "that all pills be shaped like Jesus or Mary or eucharists." No one is insisting that all women employed by the churches be required to use contraceptive devices - although polls show that 98% of all women do use them. Their employers are merely required to offer preventative care to their female employees at no cost to them. Twenty-eight states already have a similar mandate, and no one complained before. Neither did anyone one get upset during the Bush years, when this first became the law of the land. What's the problem now? Why now?

I have yet to see any argument as to why the Catholic Church should be allowed to thumb its nose at the laws governing employment. Indeed, I would not credit any such argument. As an institution that receives public funding, enjoys tax-exempt status to the tune of billions of dollars a year, and expects, nay, demands the respect and obeisance of politicians, the Catholic Church and its American bishops need to just shut the hell up. They operate businesses here, so they have to obey the law. Period.

The thing is, this is a fake controversy.

ThinkProgress via DailyKos:
Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception and since 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control, many Catholic institutions offer the benefit to their employees. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control.”

Similarly, an informal survey conducted by Our Sunday Visitor found that many Catholic colleges have purchased insurance plans that provide contraception benefits [...]
Fake. Trumped-up (hey, there's a phrase that really fits!). Manufactured. But why?

Hunter @DKos again:
This is a non-issue being pushed into the spotlight because one side desperately needs to convince people they're being oppressed and needs preferential treatment. In this particular case, the bishops don't even have the respect of their own flock, and the conservatives using it as yet another bludgeon against healthcare reform doesn't have the public on their side. Yes, yes, it's a "wedge issue." But it's an embarrassingly phony one.
And let's face it, how did conservatives, American Catholic bishops, evangelicals, and GOP legislators all decide, all at once, that dictating to women how they might care for their bodies was something worth going to war with the Obama administration. The Times article notes how fast the bishops were ready with their counterattack: "On the day of the decision, bishops across the country posted...dire statements on their Web sites, and at Mass on the following Sundays, priests read the bishops’ letters from their pulpits and wove the religious freedom theme into their homilies. By the bishops’ own count, 147 bishops in the nation’s 195 dioceses have now issued personal letters on religious freedom, which are trickling down to Catholics through their local parish bulletins and diocesan newspapers." Oh, yeah, they were ready! Not bad for a hidebound, two-thousand-year-old institution. Follow the money up, and follow the lines of power down, and you'll find the answer.

The real situation here is that the GOP sees a tough, maybe impossible road to victory this election year, with their clown car of candidates, so their strategy is to stir up as much sturm und drang however and wherever they can, to see if  "the right-wing outrage machine can be cranked up to 11" to hide their legislative, economic, and practical failures. Their tactics are as always, to stir up the culture wars in an election year in which they have nothing to offer, with the willing aid of the Catholic bishops, who also see their influence waning in an increasingly secular and independent world. And once again, the target is women.

This isn't about "religious freedom," this is about partisan politics and personal liberty, and the rights of American women are once again being threatened. Call the White House, and call your Congresscritter. Don't let them get away with this.

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