This Week in the War on Women: Women—1, Bishops—0

By Kaili Joy Gray
Daily Kos
February 11, 2012

Don't you just love the smell of victory in the morning?

This week, the Obama administration announced that yes, it will be implementing the rule it announced last month requiring health insurance providers to cover birth control without co-pays. To allay the "moral" concerns of the criminal enterprise that has for decades been covering up the rape and molestation of children—aka, the Catholic Church—the administration revised the rule to include a further exemption for religious-affiliated organizations so that if the idea of their employees using contraception (as most of them do) gives them a sad, they can force insurance companies to pick up the cost, thereby protecting the "religious liberty" of the Church to be very, very sad that despite its teachings about the "intrinsically evil" practice of birth control, just about all sexually active Catholic women use it.

Although the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops initially responded to the revised rule by saying it was "a first step in the right direction," later in the day—coincidentally, as news spread that "at least 8,000 kids were sexually abused by over 100 priests and other offenders in the Milwaukee Catholic Diocese"—the bishops issued a new statement, calling the decision cause for "grave moral concern," and launched a campaign urging Catholics to write to Congress and demand passage of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467). Pay no attention to the thousands of abused children! Make women stop using birth control, since they won't listen to us when we tell them!

Just imagine those letters: Dear Congress, In the name of Jesus, please make it harder for me and the other 98 percent of Catholic women who use birth control to get our prescriptions filled. Yeah, good luck with that one, fellas.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) is sponsoring a similar bill to protect bishops from being sad. Here's the funny part:

Rubio became aware of the issue while attending a church service where an officiant read a letter from the Catholic archdiocese opposing the administration's decision. Rubio told his staff the next day to draft legislation to exempt faith-based organizations from the new mandate.
Hey, aren't Republicans supposed to be opposed to legislation based on religious law? If Rubio had introduced a bill because of what he'd heard in his mosque, instead of his church, Republicans would be wailing about sharia law. But of course, IOKIYAARH. (It's okay if you are a Republican hypocrite.)

The faux pearl clutching continued after the White House's announcement. Speaker of the House John Boehner renewed his threat to overrule the American people "on behalf of the American people."

The Republican presidential candidates also expressed their disingenuous outrage. And the conservative brain trust gathered at CPAC came up with a novel approach to persuade the majority of Americans who support the rule that it's really, really bad: they'll just make shit up. Memo to conservatives: when you have to lie, you've lost the argument.

Although the administration's decision is widely interpreted as a win, and it pretty much is, the whole debate has further emphasized the need to change how we think about women's health care. These separate insurance rules carve up women's bodies, as if uterus health is somehow distinguishable from health-health. Such concessions in the name of "religious liberty" are a terrible way to write health care policy. If we on the left continue to accept the false premise that certain kinds of health care require approval of religious leaders, women will need to purchase separate riders for all of their different lady-part needs. Broken lady ankle? You'll need a rider for that. Lady brain head trauma? Get a note from your employer before seeing your doctor. Lady breast cancer in your lady breasts? Well, "some say" that's caused by abortion (all evidence to the contrary), so tough titties; only sluts get breast cancer, so it's your own damn fault.

We must view women's health as no different from men's health. Yes, we have different anatomical parts, but women deserve the same head-to-toe coverage that men enjoy. You don't need a separate rider to buy Viagra; why should you need a papal dispensation to see an OB/GYN?

This week, we won the battle. But we're going to have to do much better if we want to win the war.

This week’s good, bad and ugly below the fold.

Let's start with this week's latest in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure clusterfuck:
  • Looks like the Democrats, led by the lady legislators, have learned an important lesson:
    Inspired by the backlash over the brief attempt by Susan G. Komen for the Cure to cut funding for Planned Parenthood, a group of senators Wednesday is launching a bid to organize 1 million people in support of women's rights.

    Led by Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), seven Democratic senators and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are appealing to backers on all of their websites to sign on to "One Million Strong For Women" in hopes of harnessing the energy displayed in the backlash against Komen.
    You mean, women—who are a majority of the country—might be a powerful voting bloc? No way!
  • Komen's board is full of Bushies.
  • Rick Santorum is still peddling the lie that abortion causes breast cancer.
  • Karen Handel, senior vice president of public policy, resigned.
  • Upon resigning, Handel started whining like a little crybaby about those mean Planned Parenthood bullies. As Handel would say, cry me a river.
  • Want to make poor Karen cry harder? Click here to contribute $5 to Planned Parenthood.
In other news of the week:
  • Ah, the magical properties of semen:
    A high-level [Pennsylvania Gov. Tom] Corbett administration adviser resigned his $104,470 position Tuesday after questions were raised about his outside role as editor of a conservative faith-based journal. ...

    For instance, he wrote about research that he said showed that if women wanted to find "Mr. Right," they should shun birth control pills; and if they wanted to improve their mood, they should not insist that their men wear condoms lest they miss out on beneficial chemicals found in semen.
  • Want to be able to check whether you're actually being paid fairly? The Obama administration is working to make sure there's an app for that.
  • Rick Santorum once again proves how not pro-life he really is as he longs for the good ol' days when women died from botched back alley abortions:
    Look at what's happened just in our tolerance for abortion. Fifty years ago…60 years ago, people who did abortions were in the shadows, people who were considered really bad doctors. Now, abortion is something to that is just accepted. [...] This is the erosion. And it happens in the medical profession. It happened very fast. And I think Obamacare will lead us down that road.
  • As Melissa McEwan at Shakesville says, You are shitting me. You have to be shitting me:
    A judge in Florida has sentenced a man charged with domestic battery to take his wife, and victim, on a date. Or as MSNBC puts it in their disgusting lede: "Just in time for Valentine's Day, a Florida judge ruled on Tuesday that a man involved in a scuffle with his wife treat her to an evening at a local bowling alley and a romantic meal at Red Lobster."
  • And in other crappy-ways-to-reduce-domestic-violence news, Laura Clawson reported that Senate Republicans are trying to weaken the Violence Against Women Act. Sign our petition telling Senate Republicans to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act without further cutting funding.
  • Don't you just love fiscal conservatism?
    New research finds that government regulations that restrict the supply of abortions performed after 15 weeks gestation in the state of Texas increased the price of late abortions by 37% ($454) and lead to an increase in the number of unintended births by over 6,600 in the three years following the implementation of the regulation.
  • More Texas stupid:
    A federal judge in Austin said Monday that he couldn't block a Texas law requiring women to have a sonogram before having an abortion any longer because an appeals court had ordered it to take effect. [...]

    The law requires doctors to show women images from sonograms, play fetal heartbeats aloud and describe the features of fetuses at least 24 hours before abortions. There are exceptions in cases of rape, incest, fetal deformity and for women who travel great distances to a doctor. [...]

    "There can be little doubt (the law) is an attempt to discourage women from exercising their constitutional rights by making it more difficult for caring and competent physicians to perform abortions," [District Judge Sam] Sparks wrote. "It appears (the appeals court) has effectively eviscerated the protections of the First Amendment in the abortion context."
    Now here comes the extra stupid part:
    But other than limited studies — many of them at crisis pregnancy centers — there is little research out there that defends the idea that viewing an ultrasound image is an abortion deterrent. [...]
    In her August 2010 presentation, [researcher Tracy] Weitz said, "Women do not have abortions because they believe the fetus is not a human or because they don't know the truth." She pointed out that 60 percent of abortion patients have already delivered a child, that most women have abortions because of the "material conditions of their lives."
    Bottom line? Texas thinks women are idiots and don't understand that being pregnant means, you know, being pregnant. Forced birthers believe forcing women to undergo this unduly burdensome and medically unnecessary procedure will dissuade women from having abortions. As usual, they're totally wrong.
  • Not breaking: George Will is a big fat liar.
  • ESPN Creates Special Place for People to Complain about Female Sports Commentators. I wasn't aware that was something we needed. You?
  • Offered without comment:
    Staples co-founder Tom Stemberg is speaking out against a serious threat to economic recovery and job creation: breastfeeding moms.

    Stemberg, a longtime supporter of Republican policies and candidates like Mitt Romney, complained recently that President Obama's health care reform law hurts businesses by requiring them to provide what he dubbed "lactation chambers" for new moms who need to breastfeed at work[.]

  • Have you read Vyan's excellent diary The Religious War on Women? Go do that right now.


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