An apology to Scott

In my last entry, I mentioned my brother. Then I went on to try to explain my views on Planned Parenthood and my frustration with a group of people I called “absolutists.”

I did not mean to imply that my brother is an absolutist. To be honest, we’ve never really talked about Planned Parenthood or abortion, so other than what’s he written publicly about it, I don’t really know what his views are.

He has a right to be offended by that and while he hasn’t said so, he deserves an apology.

Please accept this one, Scott.

 

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Why I Stand With Planned Parenthood

I try to make a case for Planned Parenthood whenever I can. I follow them on Twitter, read their Facebook posts and get loud when I feel like the signal-to-noise ratio needs adjusting. They are a provider of plain old health care for a lot of women. These services and referrals are important to a many people who will never have an abortion.

[Interesting aside: While researching this bit, I was looking for an example in Texas where the closure of a PP clinic meant 130,000 women would have no access to regular preventative plain old health care. What I found was a headline that said: “Texas Planned Parenthood CEO busted for exposing self: cops” Without defending the guy who allegedly exposed himself in public, the headline is misleading. He’s CEO/Pres of the PP office in Lubbuck, not the entire state of Texas.]

None of this means anything to the pro-life conservatives. In their view, Planned Parenthood provides abortion services for women, so they must be shut down. To deviate from this view means more babies will die.

I was told that bringing up the non-abortion services was akin to saying Hilter was good to his dog. To an absolutist, Planned Parenthood is an evil, abortion factory in which the people who work there delight in the slaughter of innocent babies, which they will gladly do right up until your due date.

For money.

There is no arguing with people who believe their cause is righteous. There is no negotiation with absolutists. But the world is not full of absolutists. So I try to make a case for the reasonable people to understand.

My brother recently posted a story about Planned Parenthood under the headline “The Numbers Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Want You To See.” The headline is misleading, in that the article is a summary of numbers published in the Guttmacher Institute’s annual report, so there hasn’t been any effort to hide them.

The article stems from a widely reported statistic that only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are for abortion. That other 97 percent? Evil by association. The federal government only funds that evil-by-association 97 percent, but the author has an interesting take on the numbers:

Planned Parenthood provided a total of 11,003,336 services (breast exams, birth control, STD and pregnancy tests, abortions, etc) to three million clients in 2010. 329,445 of those services were actual abortion procedures. That’s where the “3%” claim comes from. If we use Planned Parenthood’s logic, we can equate an invasive surgical abortion procedure to handing someone a condom. [emphasis in original]

So the three percent comes from the fact that abortion is three percent of what they do? How dare they! That 11 million services figure includes both the evil three and the evil-by-association 97. In other words, everything they do. You know what’s included in “everything?” Handing out condoms. And, for the sake of argument, what if they weren’t there handing out condoms? Seems like that would lead to more unwanted pregnancies and more abortions.

The article cites a comparison of the number of patients PP saw in 2010 (which is 3 million) to the number of patients getting an abortion (329,445). That’s just under 11 percent of PP patients receiving abortions. The author sees this as deceptive because . . . uh . . . 11 percent is bigger than three percent, I guess.

The next number  estimates how much money Planned Parenthood makes on abortions. The average out-of-pocket cost for a patient getting a surgical abortion is $451. Multiply that by 329,445 procedures and you get $148,579,695. Therefore, “Abortion is Planned Parenthood’s cash cow.”

I’ve read and heard many conservatives make the argument that people who work for Planned Parenthood just loooooooove killing babies. It’s their bread-and-butter and the reason they get up each morning. They whistle a happy tune thinking about how rich they’re getting off baby killing. It’s not like you can only be three percent evil, right? This is how they make their money, so why would they want to do less of it?

Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization. Most of their money comes from grants and donations. Much of what they are given comes with strings. For the federal government (and many states), a big string is that none of the money can fund abortions. So the patient has to bear some of the cost. Conservatives don’t want tax money funding abortions and then get mad when patients fund them because PP is charging money for abortions!

The people who work there do not get rich on government grants and abortions. They hand out condoms like candy to prevent pregnancy. They offer cheap or free contraceptives for the same reason. Why spend so much effort to prevent unwanted pregnancy if your goal is more abortions? Maybe because their goal is to protect the legal rights of women to get an abortion and provide a safe environment to do so. (In my head, I heard my conservative friends all say at once “It’s not a safe environment for the baby!” Which goes back to the old argument of when a zygote becomes a person).

The article continues by showing that PP provides 27.2 percent of abortions in the country, making it the largest provider of abortion services in the U.S. So nearly one in three women who seek abortions go to Planned Parenthood, a clinic that provides abortion services.

The next number compares the ratio between PP patients who are pregnant and PP patients who get an abortion.  It shows nine out of ten pregnant women who go to Planned Parenthood have an abortion. That’s a shame, in that there are so many unwanted pregnancies in this country. But there is nothing surprising about it. If you want to terminate a pregnancy, you go to a clinic that provides that service. The author suggests that PP is somehow counseling these women to abort so the clinic can make more money. It’s much more likely (9 in ten, remember?) that she’s there for an abortion because that’s the only place to go.

The argument they want to make is that 100 percent of pregnant women who go to Planned Parenthood aren’t really sure what they want, but PP staff manages to talk 90 percent of them into having an abortion. There is no evidence of that in the numbers, but when you believe everything about PP is evil, it isn’t hard to think they are capable of anything.

So let’s review: One in three women who seek an abortion go to Planned Parenthood. These women make up 90 percent of the pregnant patients there, but only 11 percent of the total patients PP sees. This 11 percent funds 17 percent of PP’s budget. None of this means anything to absolutists because Planned Parenthood provides abortion services.

In the last year, a bunch of states have proposed or enacted laws restricting access to abortion. These legislative and duly elected bodies believe it should be as  hard as possible for a woman and her doctor to talk freely about abortion, come to a decision about it, schedule the procedure and end the pregnancy.

So even though abortion is legal, these Republicans take it upon themselves to throw up as many obstacles as possible.  These usually fit into four categories:

1) Regulations that make it difficult to provide the service. 

These are called TRAP laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers). In Kansas, for example, the legislature created regulations that included the size of the janitorial closet at any clinic providing abortion services. They sent a letter giving the clinics two weeks to comply with these new codes or shut down.

2) Regulations that shame or punish the woman in the guise of helping her make an “informed choice.”

This includes waiting periods to give women a chance to think about what they’re doing. Because you know they haven’t thought about it before they got there.

This also includes mandatory scripts your doctor must read to you. These usually contain medically questionable or false information about abortion that your doctor doesn’t believe, but the state wants you to hear anyway.

There are laws dictating medically unnecessary and sometimes invasive procedures be performed on the woman before she can have an abortion. In Texas, this includes forcing the woman to pay to have a probe inserted into her vagina and being forced to look at an ultrasound image. This was almost the case in Virginia too, but the governor got scared and changed the bill. Instead, the woman can choose which kind of medically unnecessary ultrasound she pays for.

As the argument goes, if you’re a woman seeking an abortion, you need to make an informed choice. To do that, you need misinformation parroted through your doctor, a  medically unnecessary procedures that you must pay for and a waiting period so you can think about what you’ve seen, heard and felt that day.

Because there is no way you’ve thought this thing through before you got there, right?

In Arizona, the state senate passed a bill saying it was legal for a doctor not to tell the woman something medically relevant (a lie of omission) if it means the woman won’t get an abortion. So it isn’t enough to lie to the woman, you also need to withhold the truth. You know, so you can make an informed decision.

3) Cut off funding of organizations that provide the service.

No federal funding goes to the evil three percent, just the evil-by-association 97 percent that’s plain old health care. Regardless, Republicans are working to completely divest the federal government from Planned Parenthood. The 89 percent of PP’s patients that have no interest in abortion can go pound sand, I guess.

“But that federal money frees up other funds that can be used to subsidize abortion.” “No tax dollars should go to any organization that provides abortions.” Sorry 89 percent of patients at Planned Parenthood, but the 11 percent of evil ones are ruining it for everyone.

See, conservatives are worried about taint. Money spent on Planned Parenthood is tainted. Money spent by PP patients is tainted. People who go to PP for services other than abortion are tainted because too many conservatives don’t believe that PP is providing any services other than abortion.

4) Spread misinformation about Planned Parenthood.

Conservatives have a lot of “facts” to spout about Planned Parenthood. Here are some I’ve encountered.

“If you support Planned Parenthood, you’re a racist.”

I had one friend call me a racist for supporting Planned Parenthood because the purpose of PP is to kill black babies. “That’s their founding mission,” he said. This stems from the writings of Margaret Sanger, an early advocate of family planning and founder of an organization that was later folded into what we now call Planned Parenthood. In the early 1900s she advocated voluntary sterilization of people who were incapable of producing a healthy child. Culling out the bad genes in the pool through sterilization is called eugenics. During that same time, the leading voices in eugenics advocated using it to ensure racial purity or other long-since discredited nonsense. Though Sanger never advocated this aspect of eugenics, she’s nonetheless lumped in with the racists. Therefore, Planned Parenthood wants to kill black babies and I’m a racist for supporting them.

“They are an abortion factory that doesn’t really provide health care for women.” 

On April 8, Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on the Senate floor that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” We know from reviewing the numbers that this isn’t true. Kyl’s office released a statement later that day saying “‘his remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.” In other words, sure he was lying but he wanted to draw attention to something you may not have known: Planned Parenthood offers abortion services.

“Abortion causes breast cancer.”

This is a favorite of the right. It’s usually included in those mandatory scripts doctors are forced to read to patients. It isn’t true, in that there has never been a study that proves a causal link between abortion and breast cancer. They weasel the argument by saying carrying the baby to term can lower the risk of breast cancer. See how that works?

“The baby can feel pain even in the first trimester.”

Nope. Fetal cells might react to trauma, but to feel pain, you have to have a neocortex. That doesn’t happen until early in the third trimester.

“Emergency contraception causes abortions.”

I’ve covered that more thoroughly here, but basically no. No it doesn’t. It prevents pregnancy, it doesn’t end one. If you’re pregnant when you take emergency contraception, it has no effect.

“You just want to increase the number of abortions.”

I’m not pro-abortion. I’m really not. But I am pro-woman, pro-health care, pro-contraception and pro-sex education. I’m pro-choice and believe that a decision as solemn as ending a pregnancy should be made between a doctor and patient. I once asked in a conservative forum what gave them the right to get between a woman and her doctor. The response was predictable. “Anyone with a conscience has the right to stop a woman from killing her baby.”

Like I said, there is no arguing with absolutists. You can’t argue the line between fetus and baby. You can’t argue with someone who believes a clump of cells the size of the period at the end of this sentence is a human.

I stand with Planned Parenthood because I believe the forces against them have no respect for the rights of the women. They believe their religious objections should trump any right to privacy and that they know better than the woman if she’s capable of raising a child. These are the same people who want abstinence-only education in schools and to ban contraception, regardless of the fact that comprehensive sex education and access to birth control leads to fewer abortions.

“I don’t want fewer. I want none.” You cannot argue or negotiate with absolutists.

Super Tuesday Eve

For the first time since I was eligible to vote, I will not be participating in a presidential primary. It seems that after moving to East Tennessee, I’ve missed the deadline to register to vote. I’m all set for the general election, but can’t vote in the primary. It’s just as well since, even though Tennessee’s open primary means I could vote for one of the Republicans out of mischief, I really don’t know who I could support that would cause more chaos than the primaries have done so far.

This was on purpose, by the way. Last election cycle, we all knew it was going to be McCain by now so states that waited until this late felt like they didn’t really get a say in the matter. So, the GOP changed the rules and the schedule and now we have this protracted process and Tennessee is relevant for the first time that I can ever remember.

It was surreal hearing the Sabbath Gasbags on the roundtable shows talking about how a win in Tennessee could have an effect on who gets the nomination. That’s not something we’re used to.

Nevertheless, I’m strictly hands off this year. But I’ve taken an informal poll of some of the conservatives in my family in an effort to see how they’ve been affected by this GOP dogfight. The results are mainly discouragement and disappointment. And while that makes me think of the John Kerry campaign, I smile anyway.

For what it’s worth, here are my impressions of the four main candidates for the GOP nomination.

Willard Mitt Romney, Mr. One Percent

This is a man who’s major problem in life is vending machines that don’t accept $50s. He is rich, and that appeals to a lot of conservatives who are patiently waiting their turn to be rich, too. The thing is, we’ve set up a tax code in this country that values Mitt Romney’s investment earnings way more than Joe Lunchbox’s meager paycheck. I don’t know why that is. Check that, I know exactly why that is. Mitt Romney pays about 13% in taxes on his millions because his company lobbied congress to pass a law that reduced tax rates for investment income.

Must be nice.

But he’s out of touch with the mainstream. That’s why he stumbles on simple things like talking to regular people. His campaign should never have let him near a NASCAR event. He told a reporter at the Indy 500 that he doesn’t follow NASCAR, but has several friends who own teams. He made fun of the ponchos the fans were wearing as cheap. Then he overcompensated by saying stupid things to Bill O’Reilly like “I’ve worn a garbage bag for rain gear, myself.

Just today in a speech in Ohio, Romney was trying to make a point about China’s unfair trade practices. He said “You can talk to your economist friends about this . . . ” Really? Shall I take a poll of all my economist friends? Oy.

Then there’s the flip-flopping. When he was running against Ted Kennedy for Senate, he said he would absolutely protect a woman’s right to choose. Last year he told Mike Huckabee he would absolutely support the personhood amendment coming up for a vote in Mississippi. When he was governor of Massachusetts, he signed a health care law that mandated people buy health insurance. Now he says a mandate like that is unconstitutional.

But the many flip-flops of Mitt Romney are too many to list here. Let’s move on.

Richard John Santorum, theocrat

He what I call a big-government conservative. And he scares me. I don’t believe he’s going to get the nomination and if he does I doubt he’ll win. But the fact that he’s gotten this far scares me. This is a candidate who believes his religion should trump the Constitution. He says contraception is a “grievous moral wrong” and that states should have the power to ban it outright.

He says private charities can take up the slack when he throws everyone off welfare, but gave less than two percent of his income to charity last year. When asked about it on Fox News, he said one of his daughters has special needs that insurance won’t cover, so he has to pay for it himself. This is a millionaire who is struggling with health care costs. But he still says insurance companies should be able to exclude people with pre-existing conditions and drop people who are sick.

None of which covers his terms in Congress before his own state kicked him out of the Senate. He says he’d die to make sure gay people can’t get married and President Obama is a snob for wanting everyone to have the opportunity to go to college. I’m reminded of a scene in “Caddyshack” when Danny tries to hint to Judge Snells that he’d like to be considered for a caddy scholarship.

DANNY:
I want to go to college, but it doesn’t look like my parents can afford it.

JUDGE SNELLS:
Well, the world needs ditch diggers, too.

But Santorum’s egregious positions are too many to list here, so we’ll move on. Just don’t google him if you’re at work.

Newton Leroy Gingrich, the Muppet of a man

Speaking of scary. I never expected to hear from Newt again after being drummed out of the speakership, except as an occasional bloviator on the Sunday morning panel shows. I truly thought he’d be happy to just flirt with the idea of running for president in an effort to sell his books and DVDs — a sort of Dr. Phil of politics. Instead, we’ve been treated to his grandiose “ideas” which could have come from any pre-teen trying to keep his mind active while mopping the bathroom of his school for extra money.

Let’s build a base on the moon for America!

He’s good for a snarky line here and there, but his intellect is a mile wide and an inch deep. I think Paul Krugman nailed it when he described Newt as “A stupid man’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.” Newt holds the record for being the only Speaker of the House to be sanctioned by the House. By now you all know about he dumped his first wife when she had cancer and dumped his second wife when she had MS. He cheated on them both and has now married his third wife (second mistress) after trying to get his second to agree to let him continue his six-year affair with her blessing.

This while trying to impeach President Clinton over an affair. He reportedly told his wife at the time that what he does isn’t important because America needs to hear what he has to say. That’s not the kind of person I trust with the button.

What can you expect in a Gingrich Administration? Well, war with Iran for one thing. He told Fox News that if he’s president Iran “should expect to get hit.” This is a guy that, when he was a lowly backbencher in the House, used to give speeches to an empty chamber (to get them into the Congressional Record) and challenge any Democrats to come down and dispute his claims.

But Gingrich’s offenses are too many to list here. Let’s move on.

Ronald Earnest Paul, perennial loser

Paul has no shot. None. He’s anti-war. He’s anti-social conservatism. He wants to go back to the gold standard. And aside from his blatantly racist newsletters, seems a perfectly reasonable man. He’s not, but he puts on a good show. Paul admitted that he really doesn’t think he has a shot at this and his regular attempts at getting the nomination are a means to get people talking about his pet issues: the economy and jobs. It’s too bad the GOP would rather talk about abortion, birth control and President Obama’s birth certificate.

His critics like to call him crazy and it’s tempting to follow suit, but I just think he’s a tragic figure on the political landscape tilting at windmills or trying to warn the Trojans about that suspicious-looking horse outside the gates. Not enough people take him seriously and those who do are blinded to his faults, which include some horrendous accusations about gays, blacks, people with AIDS, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Martin Luther King, Jr.

He claims it was all taken out of context. Or that he didn’t actually write them. Or that it’s all a distraction from his message.

Either way, he’s given up his congressional seat to make this final run at the White House.

The field of candidates for the Republicans doesn’t inspire much hope on the right. I had a conversation with a conservative recently that went something like this:

ME:
Who are you going to support in the primary?

HIM:
Good question. I don’t know. If you were me, who would you vote for. Romney’s a Mormon. Santorum’s a Catholic and Newt’s an idiot.

ME:
Vote for Obama.

HIM:
Can’t. He’s a Muslim.

My brother Dan tells me that he may hold his nose and vote for Romney, but that the Republicans have “no shot” this time. Maybe that’s why George Will says the GOP should forget about the presidential race and concentrate on holding the House and taking the Senate. That’s called pulling a Bob Dole.

I will be watching the Super Tuesday results with all the excitement that my sports-loving friends reserve for SuperBowl Sunday. My only regret is that I can’t join in the fun this year with my protest vote for whichever loser is listed last on the ballot.  

On contraception and old, white men…

As a close observer of politics, I know there are certain rules you follow. One of them is when the economy is bad, run on the economy. Right now, our economy is improving, and while Mitt Romney still wants to run on it, his message that “President Obama has made things worse” doesn’t ring true when unemployment has dropped for eight straight months and the stock market is at the highest it’s been in years.

When you can’t run against the economy, you need a good, old-fashioned wedge issue. The default setting for the GOP is some combination of the three Gs: God, guns and gays. Enter the contraception controversy.

The Obama administration established a rule that says employers who provide health insurance should include in that coverage FDA-approved contraception for women as part of their comprehensive health care. The rule said if you are church, you are exempt, but the insurance companies must reach out to women and provide that coverage free of charge.

It is a reasonable rule. So what are the arguments being put forth against it?

It is a violation of religious freedom.

The argument goes something like this: My religious beliefs say contraception is a sin. Forcing me to offer contraceptive coverage for my employees also forces me to choose between obeying the law or obeying my religion. The government has no right to put me in that position.

No one is forced to use contraception as part of this rule. If an employee has an objection to contraception, so be it. But to have an employer take that choice away based on his or her religious beliefs violates the First Amendment rights of the employee, doesn’t it?

I made this point recently during a Facebook discussion with a very conservative friend of mine. He countered that being forced to provide contraception coverage was akin to leading employees to sin, which is in itself a sin (and a very serious one).

Let me reiterate that religious institutions are exempt from this rule, so what we’re talking about here (for the moment) are religiously affiliated organizations such as Catholic hospitals and universities. I’m not aware of any university presidents or hospital administrators who assume an obligation to safeguard the moral character of employees in any other aspect of their lives. So why single out women and contraception? When you take a job, do you give up your rights to make those decisions for yourself?

Frankly, it is arrogant to believe that just because you sign the paychecks, you have the right to make health decisions for the people who work for you. Health insurance is part of an employee’s compensation package. In exchange for labor, you get the benefit. Does this obligation to safeguard the morality of your employees extend to governing how they spend their time away from work? Or how they spend the money they earn? Of course not. So why does it give you the right to get between a woman and her doctor?

And what about other medical procedures that can cause infertility, such as a vasectomy or even chemotherapy? Should an employer be allowed to opt out of covering those as well?

Ask yourself this question: Why should the religion of an employer somehow trump the religion (or lack thereof) of the women who work for him? This leads to the next argument.

Why should I pay for someone else’s birth control? 

I love this one because it’s an economic argument and it can easily be countered with economic facts. Insurance companies have no problem providing contraception for women because pregnancies are expensive. Pre-natal care is expensive. Giving birth is expensive. Well-baby visits and vaccinations are expensive. Providing coverage for a brood of children is expensive.

When you consider how much an insurance company has to pay to cover a pregnancy, birth and healthcare for the child; birth control pills are a bargain. That’s why, during all this brouhaha, we haven’t seen congressional hearings of angry insurance executives screaming about government mandates. It is cheaper to provide this coverage, than to cover all the babies that occur when women don’t have control over their reproductive health.

That seems to be a real sticking point with the old, white men of the Congress. Why should birth control pills be covered anyway? It’s not like they’re necessary for health. They’re just for women who want to have sex without consequences. Rush Limbaugh made that point this week when he called Sandra Fluke (one of the women who was not allowed to testify before Rep. Issa’s committee on this subject) a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she wanted the taxpayer to pay for her contraception. Rush suggested that if he was going to have to pay for her birth control, she should be forced to post sex tapes online so he could get something out of it.

(BTW, his sponsors are Century 21, Quicken Loans, Legal Zoom, and Sleep Number)

I might buy into the why-should-I-pay-for-your-pills argument, but for two points: 1) contraception is often used for medical purposes other than preventing pregnancy and 2) Viagra, which is covered by health insurance, is used almost exclusively to allow men to have more sex.

Contraception is abortion.

Here is where we get down to brass tacks. There are those who believe that life begins when an egg is fertilized. Therefore, hormonal birth control, emergency contraception and Plan B are actually abortion pills. Abortion is murder. The government shouldn’t make me murder babies.

That’s a rough argument to try to counter because if someone is making it, you know there are no facts that will move them off of that position. But there are a couple of points you can make which, if they are honest, should get them to consider where that line really is.

It takes somewhere around nine days for a fertilized egg to travel to the uterus and embed in the wall. For those nine days there is no difference between the cells that will eventually become a child and the ones that will eventually become the afterbirth. If you believe that an unattached fertilized egg is a baby (and there are plenty of old, white men who do, hence the failed attempts at so-called “personhood” laws in Mississippi and Oklahoma). Then you have to believe in the sacred nature of the afterbirth. To argue that once the fetus and the amniotic sack become differentiated one is no longer sacred, implies that somehow that fertilized egg wasn’t entirely sacred to begin with. At the very least, there is a line and the philosophical geography of it is open to interpretation.

That’s the trouble with an absolute stance. It leaves to no wiggle room for new information.

The rule says coverage of contraception must be for FDA-approved methods. Right-wingers like to throw around the term “abortifacient” to describe emergency contraception (and some forms of hormonal birth control). But the truth is that the FDA has not approved any abortifacient drugs. Emergency contraception do not terminate a pregnancy.

There are three ways that the various brands of emergency contraception work: they prevent the ovary from releasing an egg,  they thicken the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, or they thin the walls of the uterus so a fertilized egg cannot attach. If a woman is actually pregnant (meaning a fertilized egg is attached to the uterus), these drugs will have no effect on her.

True abortifacients will terminate a pregnancy. That’s why they’re called abortifacients.

Not that the facts matter. I call your attention to the House Energy and Commerce Committee which, for some reason, held a hearing today in which HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified. Sebelius explained what I’ve just said: that there are no FDA-approved abortifacient drugs.

Rep. Tim Murphy (another old, white man) called her a liar, saying the morning-after pill was an abortifacient drug. Sebelius said no, it was a contraceptive drug that would not interfere with actual pregnancy. Murphy said that was just her interpretation. Sebelius said no, that was the interpretation of doctors and scientists. Murphy said he wasn’t interested in science, he was interested in religious belief.

Why have a hearing if you’re just going to dismiss the testimony of your witness in favor of your own religious beliefs? A drug that prevents pregnancy is not the same as a drug that terminates pregnancy. It just isn’t.

Today, the Senate voted to table an amendment to the transportation bill that would have allowed any employer, who had a moral objection to any preventative health care procedure, to drop that coverage from health insurance provided to employees. Now we’re no longer talking about churches or religious-affiliated institutions. We’re talking about the guy who owns the local Arby’s, saying his religion should trump that of his minimum wage staff.

If the owner has a moral objection to your lifestyle, then maybe you can’t get coverage for your diabetes.

Or AIDS.

Or psychotropics.

Or antidepressants.

Or blood transfusions.

Republicans scream that forcing an employer to cover contraception is an affront to religious freedoms, but the Blunt Amendment would have codified that the boss’s religion is more important than the employee’s. We are all fortunate that it failed. I’ll never understand why a party that claims to be for smaller government, wants to wedge not only itself between you and your doctor, but now your boss as well.

If I weren’t so charitable, I might think this was some sort of effort to shame women for having sex. Republicans want to punish women for having a sex life that doesn’t include popping out another unit every nine months. Rep. Issa didn’t want to hear from women during his committee meeting, just old, white men (and one old black guy). Rep. Murphy didn’t want to hear from Sec. Sebelius and her scientific facts. He wanted to hear from old, white men.

The Republicans have chosen their wedge issue for the time being and I’m kind of glad they chose this one. Women are more than half the population and I’ve got to believe that most of them won’t stand for this condescending half wittery dressed up as righteousness.  I stand with the women who don’t want to go back to a time when they were seen as property to be led about and have their decisions made for them. I trust women to make their own choices when it comes to their health, just as each and every old, white man in Congress gets to do.