“Let’s admit what this debate is really and what Republicans really want to take away from American women. It is contraception,” Senator Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) outrageously claimed while opposing the Blunt amendment. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D., N.J.) said the GOP was yearning to return to “the Dark Ages . . . when women were property that you could easily control, even trade if you wanted to.”
The Obama campaign insists that “if Mitt Romney and a few Republican senators get their way, employers could be making women’s health care decisions for them” and require that women seek a permission slip to obtain birth control.
It’s all so breathtakingly mendacious. Rather than transport us to President Franklin Pierce’s America, never mind Charlemagne’s Europe, the Blunt amendment would send America hurtling back to January 2012. In that Handmaid’s Tale of an America, women were free to buy birth control from their local grocery store or Walmart pharmacy, and religious employers could opt not to subsidize the purchase. What a terrifying time that must have been for America’s women.
To be sure, Republicans invited some of this madness upon themselves. But it was Barack Obama who started this mess by breaking his vow to religious institutions to allow them to keep the same conscience protections that even Hillary Rodham Clinton’s proposed health-care reforms in 1994 recognized as essential.
The lying demonization of Republicans isn’t nearly so offensive, or at least surprising, as the extremist policy assumptions liberals are now using to defend Obama’s “accommodation” of religious institutions. They argue, in short, that if employers and the government — using taxpayer money — do not provide birth control (and some abortifacients) for “free,” then they are banning birth control. Taking them seriously — no easy task — Democrats are saying that there’s no legitimate realm outside of government.
In other words, there’s no room for anybody to be personally opposed to paying for someone else’s birth control. That means the people who want birth control to be a personal matter and no one else’s business are demagogically fighting for a policy in which your birth control is in fact everyone’s business, starting with the government’s.
— Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and the author of the forthcoming book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can write to him by e-mail at [email protected], or via Twitter @JonahNRO.