In spite of the fact that contraception is a non-issue for the majority of American citizens, the battle is not going to go away anytime soon. There are three main reasons for this. First, the GOP is pathetically out of touch about what really matters to Americans (it’s the economy, stupid). Second, it is looking for a distraction from the fact that they have no novel ideas or plans to help the economy. Third, they are owned and operated by the Christian Right, and know they cannot win without its support. In Massachusetts, the contraception war has been joined between GOP incumbent Scott “I Love the Kochs” Brown and his Democratic challenger, Elizabeth “How do you like me now?” Warren.
I have been a lifelong resident of Massachusetts, and a political ‘junkie’ since high school. For the life of me, I have no idea how Mr. Tea Bag himself, Scott Brown, managed to wrest the seat Ted Kennedy held for 46 years away from the Democrats. I do have my personal feelings about what might have contributed, and one of the most important was that Barack Obama did absolutely nothing to help Martha Coakley fight for the seat in 2010. Perhaps Obama thought — like the DNC — she would never lose. But she did. We managed to lose one of the most important Democratic seats in the Senate to the GOP. I consider that a major administration failure.
The other issue was that the conservative Tea Baggers got out the vote. The Progressives did not. They got depressed and stayed home. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again because the re-election of the vapid Scott Brown would be a disaster, not only for Massachusetts but for the nation.
While Massachusetts has the second highest percentage of Catholics in the nation, it is among the least religious states. However, the Catholic Church is a very powerful entity in Massachusetts and has been blurring the line between church and state for many years. For example, it is reported that back in 1935 Cardinal William O’Connell single handedly squashed a proposed state lottery. In his book, The Faithful Departed: The Collapse of Boston’s Catholic Culture, Philip Lawler states:
“From the first days of the Catholic ascendancy, church leaders in Boston experienced the temptation to build up that influence and power for their own sake, rather than nurturing the religious solidarity on which they depended. Cardinals became preoccupied with the needs of the archdiocese as a secular institution, sometimes even to the detriment of the archdiocese.”
I can only imagine that political pressure of Biblical proportions might have been directed at Senator Brown on this issue.
In an op-ed piece published in the Boston Globe on Friday, February 24, Scott Brown wrote that the ‘ObamaCare’ mandate that forces religious organizations to cover contraception violates the teachings of their church and infringes on freedom of religion. He insists that is why he supports the repeal of ObamaCare.
The simple reality is that churches and religious organizations may employ people that are not of their own faith. They certainly do not always serve people of their own faith. I can tell you that from my own personal experience of being homeless for several years with two small children. Certainly, these entities are employers, and that is why they fall under the mandate. Nobody is stopping the church from exercising its religious freedom. Churches have every right to counsel their flock as they see fit. However, churches have no place in the legislative process (regardless of how nauseous the separation between church and state makes Rick Santorum). Scott goes on to say:
As a husband and father of two daughters, I believe insurance companies should have to cover services that many women want and rely on. But I also recognize that there are some people who, based on their deepest moral and religious convictions, don’t agree with me regarding some of those services. We must seek to respect their rights, too.
That’s fine. Those people who do not believe in contraception do not have to use contraception. However, it is not their place to deny contraception to those who do use it based on their personal religious beliefs. That’s beyond absurd. So, if you are a sexually-active single woman using birth control, your employer can deny you coverage because of some amorphous moral conviction? How does that even make any sense? This is the basic fundamental reality of religion: It’s personal. It’s private. The ‘true believers’ can take care of their own lives. Let everyone else worry about themselves. The Big Guy, whomever that is, will sort it all out at the end of time. That works for everyone.
In a dueling op-ed piece on Friday, Elizabeth Warren writes:
Let’s be clear what this proposed law is not about: This is not about Catholic institutions or the rights of Catholics to follow their faith. President Obama has already made sure religious institutions will not be forced to cover contraception – at the same time that he has made sure women can get the health care they need directly from their health care insurers. Carol Keehan, the president and CEO of Catholic Health Association, said that Obama’s approach “protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions.’’
Given that the compromise has been struck, the only logical conclusion one can come to is that this is yet another battleground in the GOP war on women. There’s simply no other explanation. Scott Brown has co-sponsored a bill that will allow employers and insurance companies to cut off coverage to contraception, maternity care, and anything else they damned well please. Scott Brown can continue to position himself as an ‘independent’ voter who doesn’t necessarily tow the party line, but that’s perception vs. reality. On this issue, he’s right there with his brethren in the GOP, the mental midgets who held hearings on the subject of contraception but didn’t think the involvement of women in the discussion was relevant.
That’s a giant WTF?