The Republican war on contraception and other individual rights seeks to inject really big government policies directly into people’s lives. At the same time, they assail Democrats for supporting big government policies. So which is it? Do they hate big government or do they relish it?
I must be having some sort of nightmare from which I can’t wake up. I could swear that this was the year 2012, but I must be mistaken. How else can you explain the current slate of Republican social policies that have become the topics du jour? Are Republicans really so dumb as to think that this war on birth control can possibly be a winning one for them? Have they gone completely batshit crazy as a political entity?
Having serious issues with abortion is one thing. Hey, I’m staunchly pro-choice—choice, not pro-abortion as anti-abortion activists prefer to label it. I believe that abortion is an option of absolute last resort. If you are absolutely against abortion, then don’t have one. No one is forcing you. But that doesn’t give you the right to force someone to carry to term an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy based on your own religious or moral beliefs. And forcing a woman to carry the child of a rapist or incestuous intercourse is just plain cruel.
If you want to discuss limitations on abortions, then let’s have at it. Even I can see the reasonableness of banning late term abortions except in extreme cases. But to deliberately attempt to intimidate a woman out of an abortion by law is simply stupefying. Take laws like the one in Texas that requires women to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound done at least 24 hours before the procedure is performed, or the proposed law in Virginia that has already passed the state legislature and has earned a thumbs up from Bob McDonnell, the state’s Republican Governor, that requires a trans-vaginal ultrasound that has been likened to state-sanctioned rape where the doctor is forced to shove an ultrasound probe up a woman’s vajayjay in order to get a good, up-close and personal look at the fetus. This cannot possibly be constitutional, yet Republicans across the country are repeatedly injecting government into women’s lives in the most personally violable way possible.
But now the conversation has raced past abortion and into the abolition of birth control! Republicans have suddenly decided that contraception is a morally outrageous concept, and the government must now do something to prevent women of all walks of life from having access to it. The formerly benign issue of contraception has suddenly become a divisive and partisan issue! Who knew?
This didn’t just stem from the announcement last week mandating that all businesses that provide health insurance for their employees (except churches) include contraception in the plan, including birth control pills and other forms, at no cost to the insured.
Last November, Mississippi Republicans tried to pass a “personhood amendment” law that would have effectively outlawed all forms of contraception used by women (next thing you know they’ll be coming for the condoms, too). That law was rejected by 55% of the voters in one of the most staunchly conservative states in the Union. In Colorado, a similar measure failed miserably at the polls in 2008, losing by a 73/27 margin, and again in 2010 during the Republican wave by a 70/30 margin.
But even after being completely rejected by the electorate, and despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of Americans support President Obama’s stance in this current birth control debate—even Catholics support the new HHS policy–Republicans have gone all-in against birth control itself. Rick Santorum thinks that birth control is “harmful to women.” Seriously! Mitt Romney blasted President Obama for the mandate, despite the fact that he included a nearly identical provision in his Massachusetts health care law. Newt Gingrich got into the act as well, calling the provision “an outrageous assault on religious liberty.” Rick Santorum Super-PAC sugar daddy Foster Friess told Andrea Mitchell that women should just use aspirin between their knees for contraception. You just can’t make this stuff up! And then there’s the New Hampshire Republican lawmaker that insisted that birth control pills cause prostate cancer. (Note to the biologically challenged: Women don’t have prostate glands!)
It’s just unfathomable that Republicans can possibly be this out of touch with reality; how they are stubbornly and eagerly trying to drag us all back to the 19th Century.
Republicans are trying to frame this debate as one about religious freedom. Because to Republicans, as Jon Stewart puts it, “we should all be free to live by Christian law.” (Also see this piece of brilliance in response to Sean Hannity’s little gathering of holy men.) And they’re right. This is about religion.
The entire concept of freedom of religion is being twisted and contorted by Republicans to mean that they have the right to impose their religious beliefs on the rest of society against their will. And they’re using the contraception debate to do it. They want a Christian society that is ruled by the Bible and Christian law (the very thing they ridicule about Islamic theocracies and the Koran), and by God they’re gonna have it no matter what the Constitution says. But they forget one small tidbit of information: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” While the concept of freedom of religion allows you your religious beliefs without any interference from the law, it also allows for the freedom from religion. Those who choose not to follow the precepts of any particular religion, or who choose not to place religion in a prominent role in their lives, are just as free to do so.
By making contraception available to those who want it does nothing to deny anyone their religious freedom. There is no rule or law that says that you have to utilize it if you don’t want to or if it defies your beliefs.
Really, though, this contraception nonsense is just the tip of the iceberg for Repubs. They’re on a crusade to restrict voting rights. They’re intent on killing workers’ rights. And they just hate schools and school teachers.
This is the 21st Century, but the Republicans keep partying like its 1799.
Update: More from Rachel Maddow on the Virginia transvaginal ultrasound law: