Congressional Republicans are pledging to fight the new requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control. I am going to make a prediction — their hardline stance on this issue will backfire . As it turns out birth control is wildly popular with both men and women and even among Catholics who tend to be the most vocal in their opposition. There is poll after poll showing strong support for contraception being available to all women.
According to a Public Religion Research Institute survey released Tuesday, 58% of Catholics supported this new requirement, 58% of Americans agreed that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” There was only 40% of people polled that disagreed.
Doctors For America conducted a study that showed 11.2 million women ages 15 to 44 use contraceptives. The study also showed that 58% of women use contraception for other conditions unrelated to pregnancy prevention including the treatment endometriosis, acne, regulation of menstrual cycles, and menstrual pain just to name a few.
Regardless of these facts the Republicans are now condemning the new requirement that all women have access to contraception. They are trying to make the argument that it is a First Amendment issue and about religious freedom.
Speaker Boehner called it an “unambiguous attack on religious freedom in our country” and vowed to repeal the regulation.
Senate Minority Leader McConnell said “make no mistake: the Obama administration’s decision to force religious hospitals, charities, and schools to comply with a mandate that violates their religious views is abhorrent to the foundational principles of our nation.”
Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said “It violates our First Amendment to the constitution. This is not a women’s rights issue. This is a religious liberty issue.”
Rick Santorum has even come out being completely against birth control. In a recent interview he said “many of the Christian faith have said, well, that’s okay, contraception is okay. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” I am guessing he thinks sex is for procreating…that’s it.
This doesn’t have anything to do with religious freedom. Republicans are hoping they have found a social issue that is going to energize their base. In every election they try to find some social issue to demonize and use against Democrats like gay marriage or abortion. Now it is contraception. However, they are going way to the right in their opposition, and unlike gay marriage or abortion, contraception is widely used and viewed positively by women and men across party lines.
The public is becoming more socially liberal and stoking this culture wars will ultimately be a bad move for the party.