The GOP's birth-control strategy.



On Friday, President Obama offered a "compromise" on birth control coverage that would pass the cost of contraceptives on to insurance companies (and, ultimately, to insured employees) if an employer objected to providing birth control on religious grounds. In a post on the so-called concession, I (and plenty of others) predicted that Republicans in Congress would stop at nothing to make sure that no employer---including employers who aren't actually affiliated with a religious group---should have to pay for health care that includes coverage for birth control.

On Friday, I wrote: "Even if [religious conservatives] ultimately accept this “victory,” (they won’t) they’re going to keep pushing for more… and more… and more. ... For once, just once, it would be nice to hear our President say [to religious institutions], This is basic health care, and if you’re opposed to providing basic health care, you’re welcome to forgo all government funding and tax exemptions.'”

It gives me no pleasure to report that this prediction is already coming true. Republicans in the US Senate (with the exception of two of the senate's five female Republican members, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, both of Maine) have vowed to fight until the policy is overturned, and no employer has to provide comprehensive health care coverage to women if they don't want to. Today, Republicans are filing an amicus brief with the Supreme Court, and proposing legislation that would repeal the birth-control mandate entirely.
"In this country the government doesn't get to tell you or your organization what your religious views are – and they could well be minority views – but the Bill of Rights is designed to protect the minority from the will of the majority," [Senate Minority Leader Mitch] McConnell said on CBS's "Face the Nation."

"So this issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down. They don't have the authority … to tell someone in this country, or some organization in this country, what their religious beliefs are."

Hmm. To borrow an analogy from Matthew Yglesias, if the health care law was repealed tomorrow, and the Muslim owner of a large private firm announced that he would no longer pay for health care plans that allow employees to be seen by doctors of the opposite sex, would McConnell and his allies in Congress be fighting tooth and nail for that employer's "freedom of conscience"?

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