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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  • http://feministing.com/members/ambermarie/ Amber

    This is the worst idea I’ve heard since my brother told me we should replace our soldiers with trained monkeys. I’m sure Republicans are thinking of abortion and contraceptives when looking at this bill but there are WAY worse consequences–I’m thinking of vaccines. There are a surprising number of people who are vehemently against vaccines, and if one of them is your boss, you could end up sending your kid to college without being vaccinated against something as easy to catch and die from as meningococcal meningitis. Not to mention the friction it would create between health care provider, employer, and schools that require basic vaccinations for admittance (which is most schools). Suddenly a poor family can’t keep their children from getting whooping cough because their boss thinks vaccines are evil? That’s preposterous.

  • http://feministing.com/members/andejoh/ John

    To grab the attention of your male audience, you should point out that they can deny covering Viagra for single men because they don’t believe in pre-marital sex. I think that it is a legitimate question to ask if an employer should be required to cover ant reproductive services for their employees, but if you answer yes, there should be no discrimination as to what those services are as long as they are legal and have been found to be medically sound. We see vision and dental plans as separate from medical insurance, reproductive plans could be an option. It would be up to a potential employee to determine if they wanted to work for an employer that didn’t offer one.

    There is a difference between not paying for medical care and preventing employees from receiving medical care. Employers should be prevented from discriminating against their employees based on lifestyle choice as long as the activity is legal. They might not offer sick leave, but shouldn’t be able to deny me based on an injury sustained mountain climbing or hypertension due to caffeine consumption.

    They play an interesting game because if too many employers fail to cover too many things, I’m certain that they’ll be paying for it under universal health care, which is the correct approach anyway because health care should be a right.

  • http://feministing.com/members/thelittlepecan/ Alana

    Fortunately, the next president will be the same one we have now.

    And NO, it isn’t a vehicle he MUST sign.

  • http://feministing.com/members/stellarose/ Stella

    Don’t the Republicans also see how this sort of thing could ultimately be used to REQUIRE women to use contraception and have abortions? I am pretty sure my former employer would have LOVED to condition my ability to get health care coverage on my agreeing to take birth control pills. That way they never would have had to deal with the pesky fact that women sometimes have babies which (at least temporarily) decreases their ability to be ideal servants to the corporate overlords.

    Requiring women to take the pill as a condition of employment would also a big win for the pharma companies producing the pill! I’m sure we could find plenty of pharma-industry paid doctors to certify how wonderful the pill is for your health. I can see it now: “As an employer, I think it is morally wrong for women to have [a][more than one] baby as a [single] working mother.”

    Point being, letting employers pick and choose what coverage their employees get based on their “religious” and “moral” beliefs open up a new and huge ability for private businesses to control every aspect of our lives. Republican sicken me…how dare they go on and on about the coercive power of big government, while handing other, just as powerful people the power to control every aspect of our lives.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smsintexas/ Sarah

    This is disgusting… these people must be stopped.

    • http://feministing.com/members/smsintexas/ Sarah

      Take a moment to write your representatives in the senate and congress. Every little bit helps.

  • http://feministing.com/members/robbieloveslife/ Robert

    They sure do a good job at pissing off women. This will probably increase republican funding though because companies will want a republican in the white house to pass this bill so they can keep more money in their pockets. I would normally say a democrat wouldn’t sign this but in an election year I can’t put it past Obama to sign this bill if it means millions of dollars in campaign donations from big companies. Hillary Clinton would never sign such a bill.