The Tea Party Republicans' fight to deny women access to birth control---a right, established in 1962, that nearly every single woman in the US will choose at some point to exercise (and one that most Catholics support)---has finally achieved the status of performance art.

Republicans in Congress, led by House Speaker John Boehner, are now promising to overturn the federal requirement that religious schools and hospitals provide contraception without a co-pay with legislation, calling it "an unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country"---despite the fact that their own health care plans cover contraception, including emergency contraception. Religious churches and charities are already exempt from the requirement; the change the Republicans are pushing for would exclude millions more women from coverage for a basic preventative health care service.

Astonishingly, President Obama is reportedly looking for a "compromise" with the forced-birthers, considering options that include allowing church-affiliated schools, nonprofits, and other institutions to deny birth control if they refer women to a different insurer who would provide the coverage---forcing women to switch to the insurance company of the institution's choice if they want access birth control, even if that health coverage is inferior in other ways.

As the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat notes, "sometimes during the day, scanning the political news, I get confused and think it might actually still be 1962.

US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has continued to be among the loudest voices in Congress in favor of preserving women's access to all

health care services. In a speech today, Murray noted that every time members ofCongress attack women's rights---to abortion, contraception, emergency birth control---they say it's about something else, like religious freedom, pharmacists' right to follow their conscience, or the need to remain politically neutral during a congressional investigation.

"This is a fight to protect the rights of the millions of Americans who do use contraceptives—who believe that family planning is the right choice for them— and who don’t deserve to have an extreme minority’s ideology prevent them from getting the coverage they deserve," Murray said.
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