Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 13, 2010

CONSERVATIVES ARE COMING FOR YOUR BIRTH CONTROL.... During the prolonged debate over health care reform, the most prominent "culture war" fight was over abortion, and whether the new law would allow indirect, circuitous public funding of it.

The issue of contraceptives -- specifically, legally mandated coverage of contraceptives in American health care plans -- didn't generate much attention. Dana Goldstein has a fascinating report today about how that's likely to soon change.

[T]he Daily Beast has learned that many conservative activists ... are just waking up to the possibility that the new health care law could require employers and insurance companies to offer contraceptives, along with other commonly prescribed medications, without charging any co-pay. Now the Heritage Foundation and the National Abstinence Education Association say they plan to join the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in resisting implementation of the new provisions. [...]

Currently, 27 states require insurers to cover birth control, but federal health reform has the potential to go much further -- mandating that prescription birth control be offered to consumers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia free of "cost-sharing," or payments at the pharmacy counter.

At issue are yet-to-be-written federal regulations on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Proponents of women's health want changes to preventive-health-care guidelines to be made quickly, while the right gets organized to fight coverage of birth control.

Matt Yglesias sees a fight worth having.

Politically speaking, I think this is the fight progressives have been wanting to have for some time now -- something that would highlight the deeply reactionary and anti-woman ideology that drives the main institutional players in the anti-abortion movement. But will it be possible to get people to pay attention?

It's tough to predict what folks will care about, but this dispute offers clear upsides for the left. After all, family-planning programs are wildly popular, and contraceptives are commonly used nationwide. Goldstein also noted the business community is supportive: "A new report from the National Business Group on Health found that most companies would save money in the long run by providing their employees with co-pay-free birth control."

Here's hoping Obama administration officials ignore conservatives and pursue guidelines that are good politics and good policy.

Steve Benen 1:00 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (21)

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To speed things up on this and similar discussions, apply the following one-liner

sed -i '/woman/s/pro-life/anti-sex/g'

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 13, 2010 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

You would think insurers would see the benefit in providing contraceptives anyways. Fewer dependents means lower insurance costs. Certainly lower than hormonal contraceptives.

Posted by: dk on July 13, 2010 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

"Here's hoping Obama administration officials ignore conservatives and pursue guidelines that are good politics and good policy."

That would certainly be a refreshing change.

Posted by: somethingblue on July 13, 2010 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

Insurance coverage of birth control just encourages unemployment because it enables lazy Americans to have sex all day instead of look for jobs.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 13, 2010 at 1:41 PM | PERMALINK

"You would think insurers would see the benefit in providing contraceptives anyways."

They do. But in some states, they will be boycotted if they do. Now that all insurers must offer the coverage, a boycott won't work. They need the law for political cover.

Posted by: fostert on July 13, 2010 at 1:43 PM | PERMALINK

Like somethingblue, I'm not optimistic. There hasn't been a single issue where Obama has refused to compromise (after taking an initial position that was in itself a center-right position). These compromises wouldn't be such a problem but in almost all cases there is evidence or data that indicate that no compromise should be made. Whether it is a desire to avoid conflict or a reflection of his political and moral thinking is immaterial; the result is bad in either case. It exposes Obama as a weak and cynical leader (driving away the swing voters that supported him previously) and demoralizes his base.

Posted by: rk on July 13, 2010 at 1:46 PM | PERMALINK

The way it is being framed is that contraception is elective and parents should know what their children are up to so people should have to pay for contraception.
Given the level of cognitive dissonance people have tolerated over the years they might succeed in making a lot of noise over this issue. It will work well as the thin edge of the wedge. It has in the past.

Posted by: thebewilderness on July 13, 2010 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

Obama has a very outspoken wife and two daughters. There is no way, absolutely no way, he is going to compromise in a way that is a step backward on contraception. Regardless of how he really feels about abortion, freely available contraception is the key to women's advancement, and if he doesn't already realize that, Michelle will make it very, very clear to him.

I really hope the right wing pushes this. There is nothing like defending a policy of making contraception less available to make the right look like 19th century scolds. It will cement their demise, especially among the 80% of women who are reasonable on this issue.

Posted by: Mimikatz on July 13, 2010 at 2:04 PM | PERMALINK

"Here's hoping Obama administration officials ignore conservatives and pursue guidelines that are good politics and good policy."

That would definitely be a change we could believe in.

Posted by: Jimmy on July 13, 2010 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

Mimikatz is spot on. NO WAY Michelle is letting him cave on this one, unless he wants to be a model to his daughters for abstinence prevention. :)

Seriously, if the right-wing is really itching for a culture war, they will get it on this issue. I almost hope they do try this tactic, because the hammer will come DOWN on these assholes if they try it.

Posted by: bdop4 on July 13, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

We need to make sure that birth control is covered, particularly in ALL THE SOUTHERN STATES. No way that we want the mouth breathers to produce more litters than they are currently.

Posted by: cr on July 13, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

I work for a Catholic university and our insurance coverage does not include birth control at all.

Posted by: msmolly on July 13, 2010 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

It's too bad business is for it. Otherwise this would be a chance for Obama to expose himself.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 13, 2010 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

The anti-choice crowd has always had access to birth control in its sights, though it knew it had to keep such an extreme position on the Q.T. If you see a reference to overtruning not just Roe v Wade but also the Griswold decision that cited the right to privacy, remember that it specifically invalidated a state bans on contraception.

Posted by: Gregory on July 13, 2010 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

In a sane world, the drive to equate birth control with abortion to get the anti-choice zealots on board would make it crystal clear that the so-called "pro-life" movement has absolutely nothing to do with "life."

Posted by: Redshift on July 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I had a vasectomy a couple of years ago and assumed I'd have to pay for it since it's clearly "elective." The doctor said, "Oh, no, insurance covers this." I said, "Really?" He said, "Sure, this procedure is a whole lot cheaper than paying for a pregnancy and delivery."

Posted by: wally on July 13, 2010 at 3:36 PM | PERMALINK

I'll go ya one better: The real target is and has always been sex itself. They're against it. It is, after all, the Original Sin. That's what baptism is all about - it's washing away the sin of having been conceived through sexual intercourse.

I find that view of the world to be psychotic, be say the least. These people worship a god who does nothing but stack the deck against them

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on July 13, 2010 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I haven't posted in a while and now I see there's another "DK". Funny thing is that the other DK said exactly what I was going to say.

Hmm.... maybe I have short term memory loss.

Posted by: DK on July 13, 2010 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Perhaps this is one reason fricking Cubans and the Europeans live longer than Americans is that Americans are afraid of sex.

so, They DO want us to become a thrid world country..... .. High birth rate, no abortions, no education except for the rich...

So do tbe teapublucans know why Americans life spans are lower than thiose of 38 otber nations? And WHAT do tbey want to do about it?

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on July 13, 2010 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Steve, have you forgotten how powerless the Emanuel Administration is? They can't possibly do anything to stop this, because the president has no power to do anything if COngress really wants it.

Posted by: Woodrow L. Goode, IV on July 13, 2010 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

So let me think about this..they want no abortions and now they want no access to birth control? Sounds like lots of lemonade will be made in the future...drink up...
How stupid can these people be? Actually I am afraid to find out.

Posted by: mishanti on July 13, 2010 at 11:00 PM | PERMALINK



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