Thursday, February 9, 2012

Birth Control

I'm trying to imagine the meeting of Republican strategists who decided that THIS was the issue to go to the mat on. Let's listen in:

Strategist 1: "Did you hear about HHS's new rule that would require religious institutions to provide free birth control to employees? Isn't that an outrageous assault on religious freedom?"

Strategist 2: "Well maybe the Catholic bishops would see it that way, but it's really old news, isn't it? Most of the states already have similar rules for health insurance coverage. And there are exceptions for churches and other religious organizations that predominantly have employees of their faith. This rule would only make a change for some hospitals or universities run by religious institutions."

Strategist 1: "Maybe so, but we can still make it sound really bad, as if the Obama administration is forcing religious organizations to violate their sacred principles."

Strategist 3: "I'm still not seeing it, considering that these Catholic hospitals have so many non-Catholic employees who would want their health insurance to cover birth control. And even their Catholic employees want this. Hardly any practicing Catholics pay attention to the Church's teachings on birth control. I mean, what century is the Church living in, anyway? Besides, nobody's forcing anybody to use birth control. All they're saying is that if somebody wants a prescription, it should be covered by insurance. So how does this impinge on anybody's religion?"

Strategist 4: "We must have some better issues to take a stand on than birth control. I mean, practically everybody is in favor of birth control. Even Governor Romney, our potential presidential nominee, said at one of the debates that we should leave contraception alone, it's working just fine."

Strategist 5: "That was funny, wasn't it? Though with five kids, I'm not sure contraception was working just fine for Romney. Anyway, I heard that Romney put almost the same rule into effect in Massachusetts, so how could he criticize Obama for doing exactly what he did?"

Strategist 1: "Somebody said we must have some better issues to run on. What are they? We're getting our legs knocked out from under us trying to run on the economy."

Strategist 2: "You're right. It's getting pretty hard to keep arguing about how bad the economy is, when it keeps getting better every day."

Strategist 3: "There's always the deficit."

Strategist 1: "But people are starting to figure out that the Republicans aren't very serious about that, considering that all we do is complain about cuts to defense spending, and we won't agree to any tax increases."

Strategist 3: "We can still attack the president for his weak foreign policy. And there's always Iran."

Strategist 1: "Every time we try calling him weak, though, we have to hear about Bin Laden. And he didn't look so weak in Libya, either. Or in Afghanistan. And he's been playing pretty tough with China too. I have a feeling he'll keep a lid on Iran too until after the election."

Strategist 3: "There must be something better than birth control we can use as a campaign issue. Come on . . . anybody?"

Strategist 2: "Sorry, I got nothing."

Strategist 4: "Me neither."

Strategist 5: "I can't think of one right now."

Strategist 6: "Oh my God, I can't believe we're going to go into the campaign as the party that is against birth control. Something almost 100% of the electorate supports. We're doomed."

Strategist 1: "Look, it's all we've got right now. We're just going to have to make the best of it."


  1. What we are seeing is the classic Chicago Machine at work. One you seem to support. A test to see whether the left or right can muster more power (campaign contributions and influence). Money, power and influence are what the president’s supporters in Washington (and elsewhere) are all about. Like the far right they are political opportunists. It is becoming embarrassing. Both extremes think so little of the rest of us that they assume we cannot see through this crap. When will the far left and right see that they are becoming a large part of the problem.

  2. Requiring insurance companies to cover birth control is not extreme. It is mainstream. So I just don't see how you can call that an example of the Chicago machine mustering power and influence, unless you think it is bad for the administration to be influenced by the power of the vast majority of public opinion. Or you think that the Catholic church should be allowed to force their extreme views on everyone--views that most Catholics do not even follow.

    The only thing that can be portrayed as crafty about the administration's tactics is that they have managed to maneuver the opposition into taking an extreme, even ridiculous position. But that is the Republicans' own damn fault for automatically opposing everything the administration is doing. Could they be stupid enough to make a campaign issue out of birth control? That would be like opposing apple pie.

  3. I don't post on blogs in this way (left or right) very often, if ever: but you are mistaken on this one Joe. And Obama's fix announced today is disingenuous.

  4. According to the latest polling, the administration's position is supported by 66% of the public, including 61% of Catholics. My guess is that support is even higher than that, and that these results do not reflect that because there is a solid 30% or so that will automatically say that they are opposed to anything Obama does.;contentBody

    So if I am mistaken on this issue, then 2/3 of the American people are mistaken also. And my only point was that politically, this issue is a winner for Obama. I did not delve into the moral question, but I actually have a hard time understanding the Catholic bishops' position from a moral point of view. It seems to go against the whole concept of free will, which is supposed to be important to Catholics. The Church can still tell people whatever it decides is correct, and people can choose to follow doctrine or not. But the vast majority of people want access to contraceptives, and they want those services to be covered by insurance. Why should we ever let a religious organization decide what medical procedures are covered by insurance?

  5. I am in favor of birth control access. That is not what this is about. It doesn’t matter that 2/3 of the American people favor Obama’s position. The American people and our politicians are often mistaken; as YOU have been quick to point here on your blog. The American people were wrong about the Civil Rights movement early on. As well, the 18 Democratic Senators and one Republican who filibustered against it were wrong. We have laws, and they have to be followed. Progressives cherry pick that fact when they favor Obama dictating to church-run organizations. We have protections against the tyranny of the majority

  6. The rights that we should be concerned about here are people's rights to have medical treatments that most people think are basic and necessary covered by their insurance policies. The rights that we should be less concerned about are the rights of employers to impose their moral values on their employees.

    If we start letting Catholic business owners deny their employees coverage for birth control, then we might have to let business owners who have religious objections to blood transfusions refuse to allow their employees to be covered for that. Or people who are against vaccines for moral or religious reasons. Or a whole bunch of other medical decisions that various religions might find objectionable. We have to keep these exemptions as narrow as possible, and keep medical decisions up to doctor and patient, not up to the patient's employer, who should just stay out of it.