Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Struggle For Birth Control or Political Control?

After Jake’s post on Friday I have been following the coverage of this compromise very closely and am genuinely both amused and frustrated with the proceedings. How long will it take president Obama to realize that the Republicans are not merely opposed to his proposed legislation but that they are actually opposed to him? This commotion over employer provided birth control is a perfectly transparent example of politicians halting the passage og yet another piece of practical legislation to gain political clout. At this point in Obama’s presidency, the way he has chosen to lead is by compromise and even after stunning the other side with another answer to their woes; they have transformed the debate yet again.

As we saw last week, the Republican Party threw a tantrum about the language in the health care legislation that asked for birth control to be provided by employers, prompting President Obama to extend an olive branch. On Friday he announced, “if a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge.” The GOP took the branch, snapped it, and tossed it back. It must have been the wrong branch...?

Whether you stand with Friedman or Madison in the Gridlock debate, you must agree that this is not what either envisioned as a mechanism to halt national productivity or progression. Even IF, you thought that religious institutions should not be mandated to provide birth control to their employees you would have to agree that the GOP’s media storm in the aftermath embodies the idea of a “tempest in a teapot”; it’s all too much.

If we can attribute this struggle for political clout to the 2012 election season then aren’t we the root cause of all of this as these politicians are struggling to gain our attention and our vote? I can’t seem to figure out who the Republicans think they are pandering to…99 percent of all American women rely on birth control at some point in their reproductive lives. Religious or not. If this is the GOP’s strategy of appealing to their electorate they might consider going back to the drawing board.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. The latest development, the Blunt Amendment (http://blunt.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/12ca4c96-d98c-4b37-920a-cdb15edb24d4/S.%201813%20Amendment.pdf), would allow employers to deny any health service coverage based on moral and/or religious objections. Harry Reid is allowing the vote to come to the Senate Floor; it won't pass, but it's shocking how much support it has in the Senate.

    The language in the Amendment is disconnected from what the majority of Americans actually want. It reveals the dangers in employer-based health-coverage (as we discussed during Professor Taylor's lecture last week). Furthermore, it reflects the Gridlock of today's Congress, in which politicians would rather kick women's ovaries around like footballs than address the biggest problems our nation faces.

    Your post reminded me of this article in the NYTimes yesterday http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/15/us/politics/poll-finds-support-for-contraception-policy-and-gay-couples.html?hpw. What I took from the polling results is that voters want candidates to discuss "economic" issues, and not "social" ones (though there's obviously, in terms of health care, a link between the two spheres).

  3. Your post reminded me of the book I am reviewing for today's class. It is called Why Americans hate politics. The author's main argument is that we are now confronted to a situation of "false polarization" in our politics meaning that polarization over divisive issues such as birth control is most often created by politicians themselves.

    He particularly explains that conservatives have in fact an interest in perpetuating this culture war over divisive issues. Indeed, since it is difficult for them to build common policies between their libertarian and traditionalist branches, they tend to focus on old divisive issues rather than focusing on proposing new policies for the future. Problem is, as SamL said, that's not what the voters want...