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Contraceptives And Religious Freedom

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

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I have weighed in a few times on Facebook regarding the suddenly controversial contraceptive mandate and wasn’t going to go into it here.

After all, it’s the same old story of politicians on the right scrambling for a wedge issue to bash Obama with.

However, having read the magnificent piece by elder-statesman of the press Bill Moyers on, I have to say —


Freedom of religion is freedom from religion

As Moyers details, Obama has responded brilliantly to the feigned outrage of the right by being — well — reasonable.

Now, Obama says insurance companies (not employers) will provide this coverage to those who want it for free. No employer will have sully their “conscience” by offering contraceptives to women in their health care plans.

This, of course, hasn’t satisfied the Catholic bishops, but the Republicans are mistaken if they think they have found in them a steadfast ally or a way to bring Catholic voters into their fold en mass:

But here’s what Republicans don’t get, or won’t tell you. And what Obama manifestly does get. First, the war’s already lost: 98 percent of Catholic women of child-bearing age have used contraceptives. Second, on many major issues, the bishops are on Obama’s side — not least on extending unemployment benefits, which they call “a moral obligation.” Truth to tell, on economic issues, the bishops are often to the left of some leading Democrats, even if both sides are loathe to admit it. Furthermore — and shhh, don’t repeat this, even if the president already has — the Catholic Church funded Obama’s first community organizing, back in Chicago.

Just to point out how deeply felt this principle of contraceptives and religious freedom is to the earnest members of the GOP, they recently held a press conference — with humorous results.

From Talking Points Memo:

GOPers Only Enraged By Birth Control Rule When Obama’s Pushing It

The lawmakers called a press conference rolling out the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” sponsored by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), a House version of the Roy Blunt bill. It’s aimed at making sure no objecting employer has to cover contraception in their health care plan (although it goes beyond that and lets them omit other services too).

Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), a GOP leadership member, warned that the mandate will “reach in and manipulate the conscience of Americans.” He accused the President of “trampling precious First Amendment rights.”

After about 10 of them took turns issuing similar missives against the mandate, while dismissing Obama’s religious accommodation as a gimmick, I put the question to them: Would any of you refuse to support a presidential candidate who enacted a similar mandate?

You see, when GOP front-runner (who oddly keeps trailing at the ballot box) Mitt Romney was governor of Massachusetts he instituted RomneyCare, which mandates that ALL employers provide contraceptives as part of their employee plans.

If you couldn’t guess, none of these principled defenders of religious freedoms wanted to take a stand against Mitt, whose plan (following Obama’s recent modification) is now “worse” than the administration’s contraception provisions.

After pointing out that Republicans have already really lost this battle, and in a larger sense, the culture wars, Moyers brings it home:

So here we are once again, arguing over how to honor religious liberty without it becoming the liberty to impose on others moral beliefs they don’t share. Our practical solution is the one Barack Obama embraced the other day: protect freedom of religion — and freedom from religion. Can’t get more American than that.




February 17, 2012 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Obama played this whole birth control coverage thing perfectly. He knew the Catholics would not like it and put it out there anyway all the while having his alternate plan at the ready. Now he looks like the reasonable adult in the room while the Catholics and Republicans look like the petulant children that they are. Well played.

    Comment by Melanie | February 21, 2012 | Reply

    • Melanie,

      I think you are exactly right.

      However, the Republicans are getting more and more shameless in their relentless war on women, minorities and gays and lesbians.

      I sometimes despair upon reflection that we live in a country where a large portion of the populace actually believes that the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 was directly responsible for the economic collapse.

      The right-wing elites are using these wedge issues to whip up their base and slipping in the economic policies that favor the very wealthy once they have them in thrall.

      Our only hope is the fact that the right continues to play stupid games that make them look petty, greedy, and nasty — like villains from central casting.


      Comment by wcward57 | February 23, 2012 | Reply

  2. You couldn’t write a more despicable lot than the Republican presidential candidates. They’re like stereotypes of bad B-movie villains. I have to hope that the majority of voters aren’t that stupid…though I could be wrong.

    Comment by Melanie | February 26, 2012 | Reply

    • Melanie,

      I think you have more confidence than me in the general populace.

      The chances of Obama winning reelection are very high, but the number of people who have absolutely no idea why this country is in the state it’s in is overwhelming.

      Thomas Frank’s new book describes that phenomenon perfectly. Americans have been brainwashed into accepting a religion of unregulated Capitalism — despite the clear evidence of where that leads. They have been taught to “Pity The Billionaire”.


      Comment by wcward57 | March 2, 2012 | Reply

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