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Are Republicans Backing Away From The Birth Control Debate?

Are Republicans Backing Away From The Birth Control Debate?

The House Republicans may finally be starting to realize they are on the wrong side of the birth control battle.  Despite the eagerness with which Senate Republicans fell in step behind the Blunt Amendment — a bill that would have allowed employers to refuse to cover contraception and other medical benefits based on moral objections — the House, on the other hand, is dragging its feet on voting up an amendment of their own.

The bill is already drafted.  Dubbed the “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” legislation has been on hold waiting for the right time to bring it out of committee.  And, with a huge number of the House GOP on the bill as co-sponsors, the bill is inevitably going to pass.

So why aren’t they getting ready to vote?  Sure, it won’t ever become law, but since when have congressional Republicans balked from a juicy, red meat bill that would feed their social conservative voters?  Especially when it involves women’s reproductive rights?  It’s not the passage of the bill they usually want as much as it is the chance to debate, to vote, and to use that vote in their campaigns during the election cycle.

It’s that pattern, and the fact that the GOP is deviating from it, that makes it clear that finally, at last, even House Republicans are recognizing that attacking contraception is one policy that will lose them more votes than they will gain.  The social conservative voters are not going to vote for their congressional rivals if their representatives don’t try their best to make birth control more difficult and expensive to obtain.  But among the general population, contraception coverage is highly popular, and appearing to block it has the definite potential to lose them votes.

The GOP tried to frame the debate as supporting freedom of religion, not trying to stop a family’s right to decide when to not have children.  But that spin hasn’t worked, and now Republicans want a way to back out. Unfortunately for them, it looks like that may not be an option.  As Politico reports, the religious right wants their vote and they want it now.  “While sources in the anti-abortion movement say they still believe the House leadership is firmly in favor of the bill, the delay in voting is beginning to cause some concern. ‘There’s a frustration on our end, so we’re pushing them to set dates,’ said Tom McClusky, senior vice president of Family Research Council Action. ‘In our opinion, the sooner the better. There’s got to be a vote before … November.’”

Looks like the GOP’s stalling tactics may have to come to an end.

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54 comments

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2:45AM PDT on Mar 28, 2012

What are women supposed to be? Breeding machines ironing the republican flag? Would they talk to their mothers like that? Spank!

9:55PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

The birth control "debate" is nothing more than a distraction to keep people from talking about the REAL issues. The phony job #'s they put up, the rising gas prices, the disaster Afghanistan is becoming, our soaring debt- Iran, the list just keeps going on! If you think a religious instution has no say in a service or benefit that is against their beliefs, then you are the ones trying to force your beliefs on someone else. Open your eyes to the REAL issues- not some distraction.

1:21PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Continued:

Don't think it could happen here? Well it already has. Just look up share-cropping and the horrible conditions African-Americans in the South lived in while trying to break out of that cycle.

It is up to us to not let anybody forget what they have been trying to do. Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it and I for one do NOT want to go down that road.

1:20PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

John h. "This is a subject that needs to be buried 8ft deep and covered with cement . . ."

NO, NO, NO, NO!!!!

We CANNOT allow this to just be buried and forgotten. They may back off for now, and it may become a non-issue by the time of the election, but given the opportunity, they will continue this push to control women, and eventually all of us.

After all this bill, like the Blunt Amendment, would allow your employer to determine what health care you have access to based on his or her personal moral beliefs.

It's more than just a war on women, although we and the LGBT community are the easiest first targets. It's a war on the very foundation of our society in order to place more power into the hands of corporations and employers. Soon, we will all be living at the whim of our employers, if we are "fortunate" enough to have them.

Anybody remember the song, "Sixteen Tons" and the phrase, "I owe my soul to the company store"? They hire you for pitence, you work for them, making just enough to buy what you need to survive (not live, but eek out a meager existence) at the company store (Wal-Mart, Target, etc.) and if you don't have enough, well that's OK, they will give it to you on credit. So you get more and more in debt to the "store", and since you can't leave your job until you are out of debt to the company, you are essentially an indentured servant, working to pay off your debt, which you can never do because the company will never increase your wages.

5:18AM PST on Mar 10, 2012

Keevin: Romney is skillfully playing both sides of the fence. He's professional weasel trained to manauver between opposing forces. Have you noticed have he deflect direct questions, often not answering? But, if I may add since I'm from Pa. the biggest weasel of them all is Santorum. In his years of service in Washington he learned from the pro's, he can look you directly in eye and tell you a lie without blinking. An extremely dangerious man on women's rights. He gets direct orders from his Holy Father the Pope. Thus will provide the only opportunite for the Pope with political influence in the USA above all others.

11:54PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Back up and get thee behind me Satan....

11:13PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

The "I'm not paying for YOUR birth control!!" crowd has it backwards.

WE are paying for YOUR insistence on not having companies cover it.

It costs significantly more to insure a population without offering contraception because the cost of unwanted pregnancies is so high – higher, in fact, than the cost of planned pregnancies, which are associated with lower risk of complications. For the cost of the average childbirth in the United States, you could cover a woman's birth control pills for approximately 293 years.

And the simple fact is that it costs insurers a lot more to cover a population without offering that population birth control than it does to pick up the cost of contraceptives. What will insurers do if they have to pay extra not to cover birth control? They will, of course, pass the extra costs onto the rest of us through higher premiums.

According to a study by the Washington Business Group on Health and the employee benefits consulting firm William M. Mercer, “It costs employers 15–17 percent more to not provide contraceptive coverage in employee health plans than to provide such coverage.”

Republicans aren't giving up on the issue. They appear to be intent on using the power of government to force the vast majority of Americans who have no problem with birth control to pay for a small minority's personal beliefs through higher insurance premiums.

9:20PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

The GOP, especially Santorum and a bunch of theocratic state legislators and governors should swing slowly in the wind for this.

9:11PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Yes, and when they don't listen to the constituents, they end up in the unemployment line with the rest of us. Women are the 50%. Force change.

5:00PM PST on Mar 9, 2012

Since some really big money Republican donors are behind this bill, the Rep. representatives may have no choice but to bring the bill to the floor. It will be interesting to see who has more influence the donors or the voters. I wonder how many votes the Speaker will be able to muster as more and more Congresspeople hear from their constituents. The Senator from Alaska has already apologized to her constituents for her vote supporting the Blunt Amendment, claiming she misunderstood what she was supporting. An interesting conundrum for the leadership and, the best part, is they did it all themselves- no liberal or media conspiracy- they listened to the money not the people.

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