Republicans Rethinking Wisdom of Attacks on Contraception
Last week, every Republican Senator except Olympia Snowe, who had just announced her retirement, voted for the Blunt amendment that would have allowed any employer the right to deny any insurance coverage based on “moral objection.” While the language was absurdly broad, it was aimed squarely at the no-cost birth control regulation championed by President Obama. They forged ahead with this vote (and several hearings in the House), despite overwhelming public support for birth control generally and the no-cost birth control at the center of the fight.
When you add Rush Limbaugh’s over-the-top attacks on Sandra Fluke in the days surrounding that vote and new polling showing that the month-long attacks on birth control have hurt the party, some are rethinking their positions.
Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who is pro-choice but nonetheless voted for the Blunt amendment (going so far as to pen an op-ed in favor of it before the vote), told the local Anchorage paper she regretted her vote. And then she went further:
“I heard a lot [from my constituents] because it was in the news this weekend…I think [these incidents] are just adding to this sense that women’s health rights are being attacked — that in 2012 we’re having a conversation about whether or not contraception should be allowed. I think most thought that we were done with those discussions decades ago. So it’s been kind of an interesting week for women’s health issues.”
“The comments made by Limbaugh, I was just stunned,” she added. “In the end, I’m a little bit disappointed that there hasn’t been greater condemnation of his words by people in leadership positions…What he said was just wrong. Just wrong.”
Even in the House, the appetite for action on contraception is waning. Here’s Speaker John Boehner on the House floor a month ago at the height of the birth control debate:
“If the president does not reverse the [Health and Human Services] department’s attack on religious freedom, then the Congress, acting on behalf of the American people and the Constitution we are sworn to uphold and defend, must.”
And here’s a spokesman for Boehner yesterday:
“As the speaker has said, we intend to address the issue of protecting religious liberty carefully and deliberatively, and the committee and the Conference are determining the path forward.”
In other words, they’re pulling back and trying to let the heat die down from women (and men) across the country.
Politicians are getting the message — Women are Watching! (Have you signed the pledge yet?)