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How Zealous Clergy and Their Media Enablers Are Manufacturing a Controversy Over Birth Control Coverage

The real opposition here isn't about conscience, it's about women and sex.

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it may well be about the demographics that are most supportive of this particular health reform provision: young voters and women. In the PRRI poll, both groups register support above 60 percent for the provision.

Those two demographics are important here for a key reason: they were crucial to Obama’s victory in 2008. Third Way crunched the numbers earlier this month and  found that the “Obama Independents” — the swing group that proved crucial to his 2008 victory — are, as Ryan Lizza  put it, “disproportionately young, female and secular.”

Some in the GOP are concerned, too, that this is a losing issue for their party:

Now, as Speaker John Boehner seemingly prepares to  turn the House GOP’s attention to contraception, pro-choice Republicans are warning that the GOP may become the next  Komen for the Cure.

Indeed, in the wake of the Komen victory, women's health advocates may be primed to harness that same wave of energy to stand with the government when it does something good for women and face down the barrage of right-wing criticism. As of Wednesday night, Planned Parenthood had sent out a blast to its email list, with a petition that, once signed, offers supporters a cheeky tweet aimed directly at Speaker Boehner and candidate Mitt Romney.

And like Komengate, this is another example of ideologues playing football with women's health. Full contraception coverage would actually affect women's lives in the here and now, giving us a little boost of everyday equality, a dose of freedom from hassle, a chance to breathe easy about our health. Wouldn't it be nice if those guys in robes and hats waving holy books at us would just get out of the way?

So in addition to signing numerous petitions and raising our voices online, women might consider directing their ire at their local media outlets. This is a perfect time to contact reporters and write letters to the editor, reminding them that lobbying groups that represent clergy are not the same as people in the pews, in the streets, in doctors' offices--or in the voting booth. 

Update 2/8: This video from The Last Word -- an interview with lawyer David Boies -- explains exactly how and why this mandate is both constitutional and fair.

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Sarah Seltzer is an associate editor at AlterNet and a freelance writer based in New York City. Her work has been published at the Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, Jezebel and the Washington Post. Follow her on Twitter at @fellowette and find her work at