Republicans go all in on culture war

Roy Blunt and John BoehnerUnchecked and undeterred by the political ass-whooping brought to bear upon them during the past few weeks, Senate Republicans are pushing yet another bit of anti-woman, anti-choice, anti-birth control bit of legislation.

According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, in a statement to The Huffington Post, this particular referendum is again about the importance of women’s health services:

“Let’s be clear about what’s at stake. The proposal being considered in the Senate applies to all employers — not just religious employers. And it isn’t limited to contraception. Any employer could restrict access to any service they say they object to. That is dangerous and it is wrong. Decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss.”

The legislation, proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) would amend the Affordable Care Act, to allow any employer to exclude any health service coverage by claiming that it violates their religious or moral convictions.

This isn’t a new tactic – conflating the issues of health care and freedom of religious and moral expression – we’ve seen both nationally and internationally. Time and again we have to fight the notion some people (not doctors or medical professionals, mind you) should get to have a say in what kinds of health care the rest of us can get, whether or not we share their beliefs – simply because we happen to work for them.

What the implications of such a broad and untethered refusal clause? They are horrific and ridiculous. Employers could deny maternity coverage to an inter-racial couple if they have a moral problem. The same could happen to queer couples, or single women if their lifestyle was not approved of by their employer. The Affordable Care Act, as it passed in 2010, had some important and powerful anti-discrimination clauses and this amendment would effectively remove those protections from the bill.

It could include denial for birth control and abortion, surely, but what else? Well, almost anything else, it seems: colonoscopies, mammograms, biopsies, perhaps? Your boss doesn’t believe in it? You don’t get it.

In the wake of the Komen fiasco, and the contraception compromise, the Blunt amendment appears to be an unapologetic throw-down in the culture war.

Essentially and notably this proposal would render the notion of health insurance meaningless. Corporations, businesses, employers and insurers would have a bizarre veto power over the health decisions of their employees and policy-holders.

Initially, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid blocked the amendment, calling it “senseless.” Then yesterday, he agreed to allow a vote, which could happen as early as today. As of Tuesday afternoon, Senator Blunt had attached the proposal to the massive transportation bill to give it the best chance for passage. It’s a “vehicle that this president must sign,” Blunt said. “If that doesn’t happen, I hope to get the next president to sign it.”

Pic via.

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