Op-Eds Speaking Truth to the Powers-That-Be
The recent uproar about women’s rights and health care is a time machine back to the 1950’s.
Birth control has been a non-controversial issue for decades. At least it was until Newt Gingrich, in early February, latched on to the fact that the Obama administration announced in mid-January that it had mandated that birth control be covered at no co-pay as basic health care service by insurance providers.
It took a while for the GOP to take hold of the issue and blow it out of proportion.
They cried that it violated the First Amendment, specifically the freedom of religion clause. While it exempted churches and places of worship from having to provide the coverage for direct employees of the church, it did not exempt religious businesses like hospitals or universities which churches own and operate.
What happened next is actually unbelievable. The Right began screaming about religious freedom and President Obama’s “war on religion”. Their public outcry was really about diverting attention away from the recovering economy, while strirring the pot of pesky social issues that their hard-core base loves so much.
Under the cover of espousing religious freedom, they didn’t need to implicitly say they wanted to take away my access to contraception,but it is clear that they wanted to turn back the clock and take away women’s access to birth control.
One of the top candidates for the GOP nominee for President, Rick Santorum stated, on camera, in October 2011 that as president he would talk about the “dangers of contraception” and religious groups who think it’s OK.
“It’s not OK, because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be,” he says. “They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal… but also procreative.” 
It was obvious what his stance was on birth control. Rick Santorum has been a social warrior on the scene for years:
The Obama Administration compromised, as they often do, and offered the exemption to religious businesses. It didn’t matter that many of the religious leaders were satisfied by this compromise. That did not quell the mock outrage of the GOP.
Republicans thought that they found something key to attack President Obama on, losing advantage against him on the economy, following 23 months of private jobs growth and a rebounding stock market. So they continued the drumbeat of religious liberty and the attack on religion. Secularism has become the new “birther” code for the Obama haters.
On February 16, 2012, the House Oversight Committee held a hearing entitled “Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?”
Someone has a flair for the dramatic. They had a total of ten witnesses testify that day. Eight were men and two were women. They allowed two women to speak about women’s health care issues. This would be like having a panel of eight women and two men testify about Viagra or prostate cancer. All of the witnesses were there to state their opposition to the health care law’s mandate to provide birth control.
There was one woman in attendance, a Georgetown law student, that planned to testify in support of coverage of contraceptives. She planned to speak about her own personal experiences and those of her friends who attended a school that did not provide contraceptive coverage.
She was denied the right to testify because she was not qualified. The two female democratic senators in attendance walked out.
The most outraged were the Catholic Church Bishops. The Catholic Church is morally opposed to contraception and they believe intercourse should only occur in a marriage and for procreative purposes. They spoke up the loudest in the beginning. This, despite the fact, as t2P reported last week, that 57%, a majority of Catholic voters, in a CBS News/New York Times poll agreed that their church and others should cover this benefit.
Then when the Obama Administration made an accommodation, the Church continued to protest because they decided that it was not right to provide birth control coverage to anyone. The nuns were no longer against the Health and Human Services decision. The US Catholic Health Association stood firm with the administration after they made the accommodation. It was all the male Bishops who were still shouting from the rafters.
It’s hard to take a lesson on women’s contraceptives from men who have chosen the most severe form of contraception, to be celibate for the rest of their lives.
Mike Huckabee went so far as to start the rallying cry “we are all Catholics now!”
Only here’s the thing: 98% of Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives. 68% of Catholic women use “highly effective” contraceptives regularly. 73% of protestants and 74% of evangelicals, the most pro-life of any faith, do the same.  The Roman Catholic church had even stopped teaching about the dangers of contraceptives for decades.
So no, we were not all Catholics now Mr. Huckabee.
I happen to be an Atheist. An Atheist on birth control pills. While I would like to say I am sexually active, I am not. I take hormonal birth control pills because it is one of three treatments for the incurable disease, endometriosis. The other options are multiple surgeries and hysterectomies.
Here are some other female-only diseases that birth control prevents or treats:
In fact, for many woman who were premature births, the only way to kick-start their systems so they can procreate is to take birth control medications.
In response to the Health and Human Services mandate, Senator Blunt (R-Missouri) introduced the Blunt Amendment. It said employers were not to be forced to participate in:
“providing coverage (or, in thecase of a sponsor of a group health plan,paying for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the religious be liefs or moral convictions of the sponsor,issuer, or other entity offering the plan; or‘‘such coverage (in the case of individual coverage) is contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the purchaser or beneficiary of the coverage.” 
If this amendment were to pass, I could possibly lose coverage of the one thing that is controlling this painful disease. Even worse, employers could choose other basic health services and decide they were morally opposed to them.
Some religions are against mental health coverage and believe that prayer will chase away the blues.
Perhaps your employer decides that they are morally opposed to people who do not exercise and do not eat healthy foods, so they will no longer cover cardiovascular disease.
Maybe they are against smoking. Lung cancer or COPD? Too bad.
Did I mention I was also bi-polar? Mental health care is still decades behind physical health care, and already carries social stigma. Should employers be able to deny medication to people that prevents them from leading healthy, normal lives because it crosses some moral rubicon of theirs?
There is no reason that an employer should be able to pick and choose which health care services they are willing to provide to their employees. It should not be left to them to make that decision.
Senator Blunt, and co-author Senator Scott Brown (R-MA), who took Teddy Kennedy’s seat in the special election, snuck this amendment into the Energy and Transportation bill which happens to be a must pass bill.
We must speak up to our congressmen and senators and voice our outrage against this amendment, along with our unqualified support for the Health Care Act’s mandate covering women’s health services.
It is a slippery slope once the Republicans get started taking away fundamental rights of the individuals in the disguise of religious liberty.