So you’re out hiking in the woods and you find yourself being stalked by wolves. You try to flee but you find yourself cornered. You are alone and unarmed. As they close in suddenly a grizzly bear charges in and chases off the wolves. Is the bear your friend?
Only in a cartoon. In real life they would be fighting over who gets to eat you for dinner.
For the past month or so the dominant political issue has been contraception. But how did this current battle start?
Feminists have been warning for years that contraception was next on the conservative hit list; that the war on abortion would metastasize into a war on birth control.
On Friday President Obama handed conservatives the first victory in that war, marking off contraception as a special thing that could be legitimately denied on the basis of religious liberty. You would think that the people who have been warning against this for years would be alive to the danger. And some of us are. But a lot of folks aren’t getting it.
But with contraception, Obama has acknowledged that it’s a special thing that can be denied on the basis of religious liberty. He has carved it away from the rest of the pack of treatments and medications, and put it over in a special class.
A special class that has only one other member: abortion.
This is precisely what feminists have been warning about for years. It doesn’t matter that Obama has provided a practical workaround so that women can still get pills; the moral and legal ground has shifted. Female contraception has been marked, called out, made negotiable.
It’s important to understand that this is a move backwards. For the past 12 years the EEOC has been treating birth control as normal healthcare and insisting that employers—including Catholic institutions—cover it lest they be in violation of the Civil Rights Act.
But now, contraception is special. Now, contraception is negotiable. A matter of conscience, something employers in the public square can opt out of.
That’s right – Obama started it. So then the guys in beanies started making noise. Then Issa held a hearing and excluded Sandra Fluke. So Sandra Fluke spoke anyway at a special hearing. This upset Rush Limbaugh so much he had to spend three days ranting about sluts like a neanderthal Talibani. Then Move-On reacted to Rush, etc., etc.
Meanwhile, while our attention has been diverted there are a whole bunch of things we AREN’T talking about. But when the smoke clears, what will be different?
Best case scenario:
Women with medical insurance won’t have to pay extra for contraception and one or two rich misogynists will be unemployed. Obama and the Democrats will claim credit for a great victory and the wingnuts will be outraged. But there will still be plenty of misogynists out there and the religious right will keep looking for ways to nibble away at women’s reproductive rights.
Worst case scenario:
Some women with medical insurance will have to pay extra for contraception and a couple of rich misogynists will still be employed. Obama and the Democrats will claim credit for a great compromise and the wingnuts will be outraged. But there will still be plenty of misogynists out there and the religious right will keep looking for ways to nibble away at women’s reproductive rights.
Griswold v. Connecticut was decided in 1964. Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Both are still good law. But the ERA didn’t pass and neither did the Paycheck Fairness Act. Homosexuality is no longer considered a mental disorder but gay marriage is only legal in a handful of states. Obama signed Executive Order 13535 restricting federal funds for abortion. MoveOn is out to get Rush Limbaugh but they are silent about Bill Maher.
Maybe it’s just me, but do you ever get the feeling that the Democrats don’t really want to win these battles?