Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) is refusing to back down from his outrageous declaration that requiring private insurance plans to cover birth control for women is equivalent to Pearl Harbor or the September 11th attacks.
Kelly originally made the ridiculous comparison on Wednesday morning, saying in a press conference on Capitol Hill:
I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked. One is Dec. 7, that’s Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that’s the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.
Kelly’s tone deaf outrage was caused by the fact that many parts of the Affordable Care Act that directly impact women’s health took effect on August 1st. As this infographic from the Center for American Progress illustrates, as of yesterday women will receive a number of preventative services — including HIV testing, counseling for domestic violence, and access to contraception, among others — with no co-pays.
For women, this represents a tremendous step forward. For Kelly, however, it apparently represents “the day religious freedom died in America.”
On Thursday, the Pennsylvania Republican refused to back down from his attack. Kelly’s spokesman told Newsmax that “The HHS mandate is an undeniable and unprecedented attack on Americans’ First Amendment rights.”
“Our freedoms and way of life have been under attack before, from both internal and external threats,” he continued. “If we fail to defend our constitutional rights, we risk losing the freedoms that so many brave men and women have given their lives to defend throughout the course of our nation’s history.”
Kelly’s comments were immediately criticized by Democrats, especially those who represent New York and Hawaii.
“Equating women’s health care and contraception with two of the darkest days in American history is not just wrong — it’s shameful,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY.)
“To drag the memories of those lost and those still grieving into the culture wars is unforgivable,” said Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY.) “And to equate those terrible attacks with the safe and legal availability of contraception for women — ostensibly to score political points — is stunning. The American people deserve an apology.”
World War II veteran Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) also called Kelly’s statement “misguided,” and suggested that Kelly “share his comparison” with veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars.