The Great Tea Party Lie: Obama’s War on Religion

Tea Party claims that the Obama administration has waged an unprecedented attack on religious freedom through their policies on women’s reproductive health care is confusing considering the well documented GOP and Teapublican legislative history on the matter.

22 states currently have laws on the books that resemble, at least in part the recent Obama administration’s original rule regarding religious institutions and their employees contraceptive health benefits. What is even more interesting is that more than one-third of those states had Republican support.

No one has been a more forceful critic of Obama’s move to guarantee contraceptive health benefits to employees of religious hospitals and universities than Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas. Of particular note, in 6 states, including Huckabee’s Arkansas, those same contraceptive mandates were signed by GOP governors.

In 1997, Sen. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and then-Rep.James C. Greenwood of Pennsylvania co-sponsored bills aimed at requiring contraceptive coverage nationally. Seven additional Senate Republicans and 15 other House Republicans signed on to the legislation, though it never became law.

In 2000, when Iowa became one of the first states to enact a contraceptive mandate, the Republican Legislature overwhelmingly backed the bill, which has no exemption for religious employers of any kind. In Arizona, state Rep. Linda Binder, a pro-choice Republican, formed a bipartisan coalition to push her bill, which exempted churches but not other church-affiliated institutions, through the Republican-controlled Legislature. Then-Gov. Jane Hull, a Republican and a Catholic, signed the measure into law.

In 2000 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled all employers with more than 15 workers must cover contraceptives for women if they offer health plans that cover preventive services and prescription drugs. When Republicans took control of Washington after Bush won the 2000 election his administration did nothing to challenge that requirement, although they challenge numerous other mandates, Indeed, during his 2001 confirmation hearings for attorney general John Ashcroft told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would “defend the rule”.

In New York, a similar law also won GOP support in the Legislature. It was signed in 2001 by Gov. George E. Pataki, another Republican.

Four years later, the Arkansas law easily cleared that state’s Legislature, with help from Republican lawmakers, including two GOP cosponsors. Huckabee signed it in April 2005 and like the original federal regulation proposed by Obama, the Arkansas law did not exempt church-affiliated hospitals and universities. It exempted only “religious employers” that are nonprofit organizations whose primary mission is “the inculcation of religious values,” and primarily employ people who share the same religion, a standard few Catholic hospitals meet.

In 2006 Mitt Romney, as Governor of Massachusetts, signed a healthcare overhaul that kept in place similar provisions to Obama’s plan yet now is calling the Obama rule an “assault on religion”.

But let’s don’t stop there. Let’s take a look at a CBS/New York Times Poll from February 8-13 of this year with a +/- margin of 3% on the question:

Do you support a recent federal requirement that private health insurance plans cover the full cost of birth control for their female patients?

All voters: 66% support, Moderates: 68% support; Independents: 64% support; and even Republicans with 50% in support.

And when the same poll asked about the original Obama administration rule that religiously affiliated employers’ plans cover those costs and not the insurance companies, the numbers remain much the same with 61% of all voters, 64% of moderates and 59% of independents supporting this mandate. And with the Republicans 41% supported the administration’s plan.

So remind me again what the issue is or is it just GOP political posturing at the expense of women’s reproductive rights? Or maybe it is just an attempt to rile up the Christian right? Or maybe they are simply trying to annoy the shit out of one Samuel Wynn Warde who is increasingly becoming annoyed with a bunch of stuff rich white men trying to decide what is in a women’s best interest. Last time I checked none of us had a uterus or any other place to gestate.

Oh wait a minute, I get it….. They are trying to assist hetersexual couples in giving live birth to homosexual children?!?!

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Samuel Warde

Samuel is a writer, social activist, and all-around troublemaker.
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