With the economy desperately trying to pull out of a dive and yet another Middle East war possibly on the horizon, the Republican party is squarely focused on limiting women’s health choices. And while men’s impotence drugs, like Viagra and Cialis, are doled out by health plans without a whimper from Republicans, “the pill,” or any other type of contraceptive used by women, is somehow problematic for conservatives.
Inexplicably, the GOP has leaped past the conservative drone against abortion. They’re now standing up against women’s ability to choose birth control. This has led women across the U.S. to collectively ask: “Aren’t there other places to look, instead of up our skirts?”
As they always do, when Republicans don’t have an issue to run on, they create an issue. So they’re introducing legislation that would let employers select which benefits to offer based upon subjective moral values. The legislation would create broad exemptions to the Affordable Care Act to the point where it would become almost meaningless. Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell is hoping that the legislation is voted on by Congress within days.
The new health-care law requires health insurance plans to offer specific services and benefits. Among those benefits is birth control. Last week, Senator Roy Blunt offered a “conscience amendment” to the law, offering it as a way to quell religious employers’ disagreement with providing access to birth control.
New York Catholic Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the celibate American religious leader, proclaimed that female employees of Catholic institutions, such as hospitals and universities, are exempt from the reproductive health benefits that other insured women receive as part of their plans. Dolan described the policy to universally offer such care as “unconscionable” and said that it “represents a challenge and a compromise of our religious liberty.”
But the War on the Uterus isn’t about religious liberty, it’s about rallying social conservatives against a President that’s enjoying a political regeneration as the nation responds to a milder economic prospect. So conservatives are fabricating social controversies and Dolan was their anointed authority for this one. They believed that Dolan–just elevated from Archbishop last week–was a believable, popular figure and that his views would be sympathetically received by the public. It is notably ironic that they trotted out a man who neither feels love for a wife or a daughter as being their standard-bearer about women’s health issues.
And even supposedly moderate Republicans are lining up behind Dolan and the GOP leadership. Republican Congresswoman Dr. Nan Hayworth ran as a pro-choice candidate in 2010. But since, she has seemingly flip-flopped on the issue, joining the House majority and voting for bills that would restrict funding to groups like Planned Parenthood.
It’s shameful that Hayworth has failed to acknowledge that contraceptive coverage is a health issue, not a sex issue. Especially since she is a former medical doctor and her husband, Scott, is a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County. The Hayworths certainly know that women seek out contraception for many reasons beyond avoiding pregnancy. Women seek it out to to treat or prevent serious health conditions such as dysmenorrhea, ectopic pregnancy, ovarian cysts, and endometriosis among others. Oral birth control can also help cause menstrual cycles to occur regularly and predictably, decrease the risk of iron deficiency, and help prevent osteoporosis. To deny any woman such coverage is to deny her access to vital health care.
Hayworth recently told CapitalNewYork.com that she agrees with the Catholic Bishops and believes that contraception is a First Amendment issue and employers have the right to deny coverage for anything that they find objectionable.”I agree with our Catholic bishops, who say this is not enough,” she told them after a speech by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in New York.
Hayworth also told CapitalNewYork.com that she’s not concerned about contraception becoming a divisive issue in 2012 election. Asked by the website whether she thinks that Republicans might be branded as the anti-contraception party, Hayworth said, “No, not at all.”
Too late Nan, the name is indelible and added to your résumé.
This article is reposted from NYaltnews, an alternative news and opinion site for the Empire State.