As of Wednesday August 1st legislation has been implemented that requires health insurance companies to cover women who wish to buy contraception. This is a compromise drawn up in lieu of the original so that Catholic organizations would not be required to offer insurance plans that involved contraception, just cover women who needed it.
But even the compromise has too much infringement on religious freedom for some Republicans. At a press Conference on Capitol Hill, Pennsylvania Representative Mike Kelly (R) said:
“I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7th, that’s Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11th, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.”
Mike Kelly is not the only Republican speaking out and it is not just men who fear the liberation of women’s sexuality. New York Representative Ann Marie Buerkle (R) is quoted in saying:
“This is a right that every American should be outraged, outraged about what this administration and Secretary Sibelius has set forth here on August the 1st.And as Mike said, August the 1st is a day that we as American will look at as the largest assault on our First Amendment rights.”
So what are we to make of this? My grandfather does not believe there is a war against women. He said he had never heard the term and therefore it must not exist. But what else can this controversy be? When women’s health care is described as a national catastrophe and linked with infringements on religious freedoms it raises the question of what the real issue is. The argument is that women should not have control over their own bodies because religion says so and that the government should keep its hands out of the liberation of half the population because it violates religious freedom. But this conclusion if flawed: to protect religious rights which are not infringed upon other rights are denied based on religion. How is this centrality of religion not medieval?
Treating women and their sexuality with respect and decency is not an attack against the country. Contraception is not a bomb. Contraception is not a foreign power’s attack against the nation. Women’s health care is a right and half the population cannot continue to be marginalized on such a gross and inappropriate scale.