White House Openly Considers Caving to Bishops on Birth Control Coverage
See all our coverage of the Birth Control Mandate 2011 here.
According to a New York Times article today by Robert Pear, the White House has now publicly confirmed that President Obama is considering caving to demands by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and other far right religious groups that he "expand the exemptions" from the requirement that insurance plans under health reform cover birth control without a co-pay.
If he does so, the President will be trading the health, welfare, autonomy, and economic prospects of millions of women and the opinion of the entire medical and public health communities to curry favor with a very small minority of male-dominated religious right groups such as the USCCB which has found that it can not, on its own, force women to become and remain pregnant.
And as far as I am concerned, if the President does this, he will also forfeit the right to call himself "pro-choice" under any definition of the term as I understand it.
What's the problem here? Even the Times basically has it wrong, because the article continues to mis-characterize both the nature of contraceptive coverage (it is not "free of charge") and of the current exemption, which not only "may" (as the Times suggest) but does exempt Churches from the requirement.
The basic problem here is this: The vast majority of women of reproductive age in the United States--99 percent--uses at least one modern form of birth control at some point in their lives. This includes Catholic women, Jewish women, Muslim women, Protestant women and the majority of women of every other religious persuasion and those who are not religiously identified, are atheists, agnostic or any other category I may be inadvertently failing to mention.
That women--Catholic women and other women--actually do control their fertility drives the Bishops and the rest of the religio-political patriarchy up a wall. And, this summer, the Administration drove them over the top of that wall.
Follow Jodi Jacobson on Twitter: @jljacobson