Will Women Lose Free Birth Control so Obama Can Win?
1 year ago
Time for President Obama to man up...for women
President Obama has spoken often of the influence his mother had on shaping his life. Stanley Ann Dunham was smart, worldly, independent and free-spirited. The president has often said he “learned about empathy” from her. He also learned to relate to the struggles of families trying to make the most of their lives with very few financial resources to do so. He has cited her healthcare struggles—specifically as a woman claimed by two forms of gender specific cancer—as being fundamental in lending direction to his political moral compass. Therefore when I heard the news that the President is very close to caving on one of the most important health issues facing women, for the purposes of political expediency, I couldn’t help but think that were his mother alive today she would tell him that his compass is off, and he is in grave danger of losing his way.
Just a few months ago I wrote that it was through women’s health issues that President Obama could end up leaving his greatest legacy. I stand by that statement today. It’s just that when I first wrote it I assumed the President’s legacy on these issues would be positive. That now seems less likely.
A non-partisan panel convened by the Institute of Medicine recommended that insurance companies be required to cover birth control for free as a form of preventative care under the new healthcare law. I can’t think of any medication that more accurately fits the definition of “preventative” than one whose sole purpose is to prevent pregnancy. As I noted at the time of my last piece on this subject, “If the government follows the panel's recommendations, this could end up being not just one of the most important moments in the reproductive rights movement since Roe v. Wade, but the most important moment ever.”
Though contraception access seems like one of those no-brainer issues that people of all political stripes who agree on very little, should be able to agree on, of course in politics today nothing is ever that simple. Despite the White House already publicly agreeing to exemptions for religious institutions, some religious leaders—specifically Catholic ones—are arguing that the language doesn’t go far enough. According to the New York Times, “after protests by Roman Catholic bishops, charities, schools and universities, the White House is considering a change that would grant a broad exemption to health plans sponsored by employers who object to such coverage for moral and religious reasons. Churches may already qualify for an exemption. The proposal being weighed by the White House would expand the exemption to many universities, hospitals, clinics and other entities associated with religious organizations.”
In other words, the changes being considered by the White House would essentially render the medical panel’s recommendation null and void, allowing any employer to simply claim religious reservations and thereby deny coverage.