Yesterday, the ongoing battle in the war against women came to a swift halt when the Senate rejected an effort to expand conscious exemptions to the Obama administration's new birth control coverage rule. The Blunt amendment would have allowed religious groups (apart from churches) and any employer with moral objections to opt out of covering birth control or any health service covered in The Affordable Care Act.
Seems like the turn of events has triggered a HUGE sigh of relief 'round the country. After all, the majority of Americans -- 63 percent -- back federal rules requiring private insurers to cover birth control! (Perhaps that's because most Americans realize it should be regarded no differently from any other preventative medicine, like heart or allergy drugs?)
What's more, many of us have been thinking the argument is a distraction from bigger concerns like the economy. Silly electorate! Don't you know that distractions like this are Republicans' specialty?
That's right. Even the most tuned-out American knows the main issue in this year's election is the economy. But because since the Republicans don't have answers to those questions -- they just want to keep the Bush tax cuts for the rich in place and keep lining the pockets of Big Oil and bankster cronies -- they've switched the script. Zeroed in on Planned Parenthood and birth control as the must-discuss-and-decide topics of the day. For all intents and purposes, put the country in a flying DeLorean and set the time circuits to 1692.
Because let's be real -- are we really at risk for "religious persecution" here in the U.S. in 2012? Muslim-Americans are sure getting the short end of the stick in many communities, that's for sure, and gay Americans are still dealing with plenty o' discrimination. But those who are opposed to women having control over their bodies and their lives aren't exactly being victimized by the government. Even if they feel that way -- despite the accommodation recently announced by the Obama administration that says religiously affiliated organizations such as Catholic charities, schools, universities, or hospitals can refuse to provide contraceptive coverage through their insurance plans for employees -- sorry, but that's not really the biggest concern we've got on our hands in this country today.
Nonetheless, all the Republican candidates have made the birth control issue a key part of their stump speeches in the past few weeks. Not because they're truly enraged or feel that is the central issue we need to address right now, but because they know it gets conservatives riled up. They hope this one, fringe-y, socially conservative hot-button topic will distract GOP voters and drive them to the polls. Even if they have no real solutions for the actual problems Americans are facing today.
Sad but true. Seems like this contentious birth control battle has just been a lame attempt to play conservative voters for fools. The silver lining: Now that we've got the Blunt amendment out of the way, maybe we can get back to focusing on the real issues, eh?
Do you think the birth control battle is a major distraction?