Over the weekend, old white men, tired of playing second fiddle to no one ever, decided it was high time to continue deciding the sexual activities of women. A bunch of Catholic bishops got outraged about Obama’s “new mandates” that would make Catholic employers have to pay for birth control, to which they are opposed. Let’s put aside for the moment that these “new mandates” aren’t particularly new (the only change is that they are extended to employers with fewer employees), the important thing here was that the minor change came about due to the dreaded Obamacare. That was enough to get Evangelicals — many if not most of whom despise Catholicism and consider it a cult on par with Hare Krishnas and Paganism — and other Conservatives who prefer money to Jesus and saw this as something to bludgeon Obama with to start hollering about “religious freedom”.
As usual, once the GOP pressed the “outrage” button, people who hadn’t given a fig about this particular problem for years suddenly sat up and shrieked about how wounded to the core they were. If an employer couldn’t force his employees to abide by his own religious rules, could we truly say we were living as free men? The pundits, blogs, Facebook, and Twitter all lit up with Conservatives who demanded we all stop and defer to a bunch of Catholic bishops.
In addition to these people not normally giving a damn about (except to actually damn) the Catholic Church, this is an issue that even Catholics don’t go by. Poll after poll shows that hardly any Catholics abide by this “no birth control” rule, and the public at large certainly doesn’t abide by it. Sure, Rick Santorum would like to make birth control illegal (as would, in a way, Ron Paul), but he is pretty much a hapless freak with zero chance of becoming President anyway (ditto Paul).
It’s also important to note that “birth control” here is pretty much solely referring to birth control pills, which of course are taken by women. Condoms generally aren’t covered by insurance anyway, and nobody (except maybe Santorum) is talking about taking those off the shelf. This isn’t about being morally opposed to sexually active people, it’s about being opposed to sexually active women, and, apart from the Virgin Mary (emphasis on the “virgin”) and a few saints, the Catholics don’t have a fantastic track record with women, nor do most other Christian sects, nor do most other religions, period. Once again, Jesus is here not to comfort the afflicted and save the lost, but to make sure everyone is sexing correctly. Once again, women are expected to close their mouths and close their legs and do what men tell them to do.
But “it’s not about birth control”, said Conservatives who, at that point, had only mentioned birth control, seemingly negating this statement. Mitch McConnell, hearing there was an old white dude party, stuck his head out of his shell to offer up an amendment by Roy Blunt to let employers opt out of the mandate. Note I didn’t say “Catholic” employers; Blunt’s amendment would let any employer opt out. In a flash, the GOP declared war on the pill.
(Reminder: Sharia law is fine with birth control.)
“Political suicide” declared some, since the majority of Americans like ‘em some sex, but let’s not forget that the GOP currently enjoys the votes of some women, black people, gay people, and the same poor and middle-class people they enjoy strip-mining for nickels to send to millionaires. One could write a book about how many Republican voters regularly pull the lever for their own hanging.
My question at the time was: why stop at Catholics? After all, Jehovah’s Witnesses are opposed to blood transfusions. Shouldn’t they get to be exempt from those? Scientologists favor only vitamins for many things; should the law respect their religious freedoms? Should Christian Scientist employers have to pay for health care at all? What about the religious freedoms of the Aquarian Temple of New Age Wisdom? They only support crystals, magnets, pyramids, and short pieces of string. Are their religious freedoms less important just because they’re a bunch of kooks? But none of these religions were even being discussed, especially that last one, which I just made up. In fact, when I mentioned this on Twitter, an “independent moderate” (who just happens to be in lockstep with just about every GOP talking point) said this was “faulty reasoning” without explaining why. I don’t see where it is; a religious exemption is a religious exemption.
Fortunately the GOP have thought about the poor oppressed Aquarian Templers, and have noted that the Blunt Amendment doesn’t just cover birth control, it lets any employer opt out of covering anything for “moral reasons”. Not religious ones, moral ones, so you don’t even need to have a specific scripture. You can be opposed to x-rays, colonoscopies, “Western” medicine in general, or simply the idea of paying for insurance for other people in the first place!
And there you have it.
Not even the Republicans give a crap what Catholic Bishops have to say, they just want to, in one go, harm Obama, give women a kick, throw a bone to the Christian base, and, most importantly, help out the corporate masters. It’s not about birth control and never was, it’s about (as always) cheap labor. We already have this insane system where health insurance is tied to employment, giving employers a ridiculous amount of control over people, but that’s still not enough, because sometimes those employers have to spend money that they’d rather not. What Blunt’s amendment presupposes is…what if they didn’t?
Death panels? Here you get life-saving care if you have a job and if your employer isn’t “morally opposed” to it and if the insurance company will deign to cover it.