According to Amanda Marcotte, Pres. Obama just brought out a “compromise” on mandatory contraceptive coverage that makes the GOP look like a pack of ridiculous assholes. Not that it’s all that difficult:
After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of “religous freedom,” Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accomodation of religiously affiliated employers who don’t want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer. Insurance companies are down with the plan, because as Matt Yglesias explained at Moneybox, contraception actually saves insurance companies money, since it’s cheaper than abortion and far cheaper than childbirth. Because the insurance companies have to reach out to employees directly, there’s very little danger of women not getting coverage because they are unaware they’re eligible.
That’s the nitty-gritty. The fun part of this is that Obama just pulled a fast one on Republicans. He drew this out for two weeks, letting Republicans work themselves into a frenzy of anti-contraception rhetoric, all thinly disguised as concern for religious liberty, and then created a compromise that addressed their purported concerns but without actually reducing women’s access to contraception, which is what this has always been about. (As Dana Goldstein reported in 2010, before the religious liberty gambit was brought up, the Catholic bishops were just demanding that women be denied access and told to abstain from sex instead.)
Right. So, that happened, and meanwhile, Anna North reports that still, not everyone is satisfied by the compromise:
She’s right — some conservatives are unsatisfied with the compromise. In advance of the official announcement, Katie Pavlich of TownHall.com wrote,
Later today President Obama is expected to announce a “compromise” that allows religious employers to opt out of paying for providing birth control to women, but will still be required to provide contraception. What this means is, insurance companies will pick up the tab for contraception, but religious employers are still required to provide contraception through insurance plans to their employees, despite the move being against religious beliefs.
Let me see if I have this right: there are some employers who do not want to provide their employees with insurance plans that include full coverage of contraceptives, even if the insurance companies themselves eat the cost of providing the contraceptives, because…the employers’ religious beliefs are not amenable to birth control.
So, that means, these employers simply don’t want their employees to have full coverage of birth control, because it makes baby Jesus cry. They feel that their religious liberty is infringed-upon if they have to allow their insurance company to provide employees with fully-covered contraceptives.
Let’s keep in mind that we’re talking about organizations which are not primarily concerned with religious activities, but with providing services to the general population. We’re talking about hospitals and universities, for instance. They also hire from the general population, which means that many of their employees do not hold the same religious beliefs.
If one of those employees observes a religion that prohibits use of hormonal contraceptives, for example, then she is free to refrain from using them. No one is stuffing birth control packs in her purse before she leaves for the day.
However, most of those organizations female employees within a certain age range either are currently using or reasonably expect to use some birth control method in the future, and aren’t worried about what their God (if they even believe) thinks about their not being pregnant all the time.
The opponents of full contraception coverage are not concerned about defending religious liberty. They are defending the rights of religious organizations to force their beliefs on employees who may or may not agree. IOW: what about the employees’ religious liberty to plan their families? Who’s defending that?
Well played, President Obama. You’ve earned that shit-eating grin.