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Monday, October 24, 2016

Ellen Chesler: The Long History Of The War Against Contraception

For those surprised about the recent fervor over Obama’s contraception coverage decision, a look at its deep roots.

Republicans for Planned Parenthood last week issued a call for nominations for the 2012 Barry Goldwater award, an annual prize awarded to a Republican legislator who has acted to protect women’s health and rights. Past recipients include Maine Senator Olympia Snowe, who this week endorsed President Obama’s solution for insuring full coverage of the cost of contraception without exceptions, even for employees of religiously affiliated institutions. And that may tell us all we need to know about why President Obama has the upper hand in a debate over insurance that congressional Tea Partiers have now widened to include anyone who seeks an exemption.

It’s a long time ago, but it is worth remembering that conservative avatar Goldwater was in his day an outspoken supporter of women’s reproductive freedom — a freethinker who voted his conscience over the protests of Catholic bishops and all others who tried to claim these matters as questions of conscientious liberty and not sensible social policy. With Goldwater on his side, Obama sees a clear opening for skeptics wary of the extremism that has captured Republican hopefuls in thrall to the fundamentalist base that controls the GOP presidential primary today. Holding firm on family planning — even if it means taking on the Catholic hierarchy and other naysayers by offering a technical fix that would have insurers cover costs instead of the churches themselves — is a calculated political strategy by the Obama campaign, not a blunder as it has been characterized by many high powered pundits, including progressives like Mark Shields of PBS and E.J. Dionne of the Washington Post.

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  • PatBrown

    itsadogslife is absolutely right. This coming election and things like choice are going to rest solely in the hands of women, if we chose to make it so. Get out and vote, don’t let this tyranny of religious extremists control all our rights. Tell them NOT IN MY COUNTRY

  • Asiagrl

    As a woman and a Democrat I support women’s rights. However, I do object to the people saying feel that contraceptives are given away for “free” when actually me and other working women have to really pay for them through higher insurance rates. Does anyone get the fact that nothing is really “free?” Someone somewhere has to pay for it, and right now it is the insurance companies that are having to foot the “free” part. My rates have gone up 5 times in the past two years since the Health Care Reform Act was passed with all of its “free” provisions. I beleive that women have the right to contraceptives – but not the right to “free contraceptives.

  • ORAXX1

    Religious conservatives will never have all the control over people they want. No one should be foolish enough to believe that, having gained control over a woman’s reproductive rights, they will be satisfied.