Obama man­date: Not a women’s is­sue

Few women, Catholic or oth­er­wise, wel­come in­tru­sive gov­ern­ment dik­tat

The Washington Times Daily - - Metro - By Cathy Ruse

When lib­eral women an­nounce that some­thing is a “women’s is­sue” or is an “at­tack on women’s rights,” too many mem­bers of the me­dia du­ti­fully fall in line.

Case in point: the re­cent de­bate over whether it is good for the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to man­date free birth con­trol and abor­tion drugs in ev­ery­one’s health in­sur­ance, re­gard­less of the ob­jec­tions of re­li­gious em­ploy­ers. Why is it not equally a de­bate about re­li­gious free­dom, fed­er­al­ism, con­sti­tu­tion­al­ism or even com­mon sense and fair play? Con­ser­va­tive women op­pose the man­date on these terms. We don’t play the gen­der card.

A re­cent CNN poll shows that Amer­i­cans in gen­eral op­pose Pres­i­dent Obama’s man­date 50 per­cent to 44 per­cent, a spread out­side the mar­gin of er­ror. Other polls show a sta­tis­ti­cal tie on the is­sue. When you sin­gle out drugs with abor­ti­fa­cient prop­er­ties, sup­port for the man­date drops even lower, to 38 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a Ras­mussen re­port. Not sur­pris­ingly, strong sup­port for the man­date is found in those who de­scribe them­selves as Democrats or lib­er­als. (Each cat­e­gory shows 70 per­cent sup­port, ac­cord­ing to CNN.) It’s a left-right is­sue more than any­thing else.

No­tice how Mr. Obama and his team at the White House re­peat and re­peat the for­mu­laic phrase that women must “have ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tive ser­vices.” But all women have ac­cess to con­tra­cep­tion to­day, don’t they? There’s no law against birth-con­trol drugs or de­vices, not one. Nor are there any laws against the sale of the abor­tion-in­duc­ing drugs that fall un­der the man­date, such as the drug “ella.” There are even re­ports that a col­lege is putting abor­tion drugs in vend­ing ma­chines, God for­bid.

Amer­i­cans are, in fact, ac­cess­ing con­tra­cep­tion and abor­tion at record rates. The United States has nearly the high­est preva­lence of con­tra­cep­tive use on the planet, ac­cord­ing to United Na­tions sta­tis­tics. The United States has the high­est abor­tion rate in the Western world.

What about Catholics? Sup­port­ers of the man­date have made much of polls show­ing a high rate of con­tra­cep­tion use among Catholics. The Guttmacher In­sti­tute says 98 per­cent. Con­tra­cep­tion among Catholics is not news, and Guttmacher’s num­ber is hotly dis­puted, but more im­por­tant, it’s not rel­e­vant, ex­cept in­so­far as it shows Catholics need no help from Mr. Obama when it comes to con­tra­cep­tion.

Even with poll num­bers like that, lib­er­als still have the nerve to frame it as a vic­tim is­sue. For­mer New York Times ed­i­to­rial writer Maura Casey in the Hart­ford Cur­rant calls on Catholic women to speak out. Con­tra­cep­tiveusing Catholics are the “Galileos” of our day, she writes, who must not be forced to speak in whis­pers any longer.

Please, spare us the nar­ra­tive of the op­pressed. The eas­i­est pos­si­ble thing to be to­day is a con­tra­cept­ing Catholic. The sub­ject comes up only rarely, if at all, from church sources, and only ever as a propo­si­tion. The church can only pro­pose the truth of its be­liefs; it nei­ther has nor de­sires the power to im­pose them on any­one. How easy, in­deed, to de­cline the propo­si­tion. You can find plenty of Catholic friends who use con­tra­cep­tives just like you, and your sta­tus as dis­senter gains you the re­spect of the peo­ple who pub­lish your morn­ing pa­per, likely your doc­tor, all the in­tel­lec­tu­als at your lo­cal univer­sity, and ev­ery star­let on stage and screen you’ve ever se­cretly ad­mired. Be­ing pro-con­tra­cep­tion is like get­ting a big warm hug from ev­ery corner of the dom­i­nant cul­ture.

It’s the Catholic women choos­ing to fol­low the church’s teach­ing on sex­ual moral­ity who have the real chal­lenge. We have to swim against the cur­rent, from how we date to how we live our mar­ried lives and how we raise our chil­dren. Yet the Catholic women friends in my cir­cle do just that, and it’s not a small cir­cle. I could name dozens of friends who do not use con­tra­cep­tives and are not in the least bit­ter about it.

No, it’s not a vic­tim is­sue, and it’s not a women’s is­sue, what­ever Nancy Pelosi or Bar­bra Streisand may say. It’s not even a mat­ter of com­pet­ing rights. Amer­i­cans who want con­tra­cep­tion are free to get it. But forc­ing re­li­gious em­ploy­ers or their in­sur­ers to pro­vide it is a fed­eral power grab that does noth­ing but di­min­ish free­dom.


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