When the Republican Party’s promiscuity police stood toe-to-toe with science—arguing, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that contraception increases sexual indiscrimination—they won. Democrats sat on their unprotected thumbs as “abstinence only” replaced “sex education” in our nation’s schools.
It was not realistic or pragmatic. It wasn’t even remotely effective, despite the millions of taxpayer dollars spent teaching it. It was faith-based advocacy, the imposition of one’s religious views on an entire populace. And it was made into law via legislation supported and funded by Democrats. (Hence the common “spineless” prefix used when referencing the Democratic Party.)
And then there was Barack.
After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of “religious freedom,” Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accommodation of religiously affiliated employers who don’t want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer. …Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception.
The rightwing rhetoric didn’t change. The extreme prejudice didn’t change. The targets didn’t even really change; they merely shifted. Whereas before it was slaves, Communists, pedophilic liberals, and infanticidal Wiccan lesbians, today it’s uppity black people, science, gay people, and half of the nation’s population: women.
But this time, when the churches started crying about “freedom of speech” and “religious liberty,” sanity fought back against fundamentalism.
Obama ended the practice of churches using “righteousness” to infringe on other people’s rights, and there’s little evidence to suggest that this was anything but a long-game strategy.
Under Obama’s plan, everybody wins: women, churches, and of course the president himself.
It’s likely that the “compromise” won’t satisfy Catholic bishops, the most vehement opponents of the law, but that doesn’t really matter. Obama’s olive branch to the Church gives him allies in 99 percent of women—and 98 percent of Catholic women—who’ve used contraceptives in their lifetime. And for those who would use this as reason to vote against Obama in 2012, it’s unlikely they’d have voted for him anyway.
The president isn’t losing supporters in this decision; 56 percent of voters support the provision, compared to 37 percent who oppose it. He’s not offending anyone except the most theologically rigid. He’s riled his base and once again maintained a calm demeanor amid another partisan storm, showcasing for all Americans how effective level-headed decision-making can be. Politically speaking, it’s ingenious.
As ABLC’s own Ian Boudreau so eloquently articulated already, the Catholic Church has no reason to fear that government agents will start hunting down pious Americans and shoving birth controls pills down their throats.
The claim is that Catholic employers will be forced – forced! - to pay for medical services they believe are immoral, and will therefore be placing their immortal souls in danger of estrangement from God’s grace.
Here’s why they don’t need to worry: The decision to use or not to use contraception is the individual’s. …Any moral culpability for the use of contraceptives…rests with the persons deciding to avail themselves of this coverage.
By law, a church organization operating as a business cannot deny service to a man because of his skin color under the guise of “freedom of expression.” The same now goes for such employers who wish to deny women access to health services.
We can thank the Affordable Care Act for that.
And we can thank Obama, who has fought for women and families of every creed, who has given the Democratic Party a spine, and who continues to be a source of pride for those of us who’ve watched in horror as our party waffled, tongue-tied and terrified, while Republicans riled the nation with emotional appeals of “morality” behind policies that were anything but moral.