Hard to believe, isn’t it? Let me look… Yes, it’s still the 21st century. Oh and where? Yes, it is America, where even 98 percent of Catholics of reproductive age use birth control. And still, Mitch McConnell announced his support for legislation introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that would allow any employer, not just religious institutions, to deny insurance coverage for contraception based on reasons of conscience. (Corporations have consciences? Who knew!)
I can’t imagine that they have the votes to pass it in the Senate, and I’m sure if they somehow managed to whip the votes, even the undependable Obama would surely veto such a bill. He has already cut a deal providing an exemption for religious organizations; IMHO, that in itself goes too far. But clearly, Republicans are not introducing this expecting to pass it; it’s some sort of election-year stunt.
But how would it benefit the GOP? By no means does any large portion of their base oppose contraception (see the note about Catholics above), and as Sahil Kapur says in the linked article,
A debate over access to contraception could be politically problematic for Republicans as polls show Americans overwhelmingly support the use of birth control and want insurance plans to cover the service for free. Tellingly, McConnell was eager to keep the focus on religious freedom as opposed to contraception itself.
What folly. Americans like their contraception, and don’t want anyone getting between them and their pills, jellies, condoms etc. And even insurance companies like to offer coverage of contraception, because it saves them money in the long run on pregnancy care and neonatal care.
Democrats should take this as a gift… and run with it, or on it.
UPDATE: From Sahil Kapur’s followup article:
Some Republicans want to wage that battle regardless. Surging GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum told the blog CaffeinatedThoughts.com back in October that contraception is “not okay,” and called it “a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” Rep. Steve King (R-IA) likened birth control to abortion Friday on MSNBC and said he isn’t convinced contraception helps prevent pregnancies.
These people are unrepentant radicals. Nut jobs. Extremists. Full-blown bat-shit crazies. I could imagine Obama losing his re-election bid on some other issue, probably “the economy, stupid,” but not on this one. Republicans are moving further and further rightward of the center of American political thought. One need not be a fan of Obama to see where that leads.
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