Government Shutdown Brings Birth Control ControversyPosted: September 30, 2013
In the midst of a battle over a possible government shutdown, somehow, one entirely unrelated issue has been pulled into the political fray: birth control.
Why are we not surprised?
On Sunday, the House of Representatives passed a spending bill that included new, unexpected provisions. The latest proposed spending solution now includes a so-called “conscience clause,” a provision that would allow employers and insurers to refuse to cover health services that they object to on moral or religious grounds. Following the lead of a bill by renowned anti-choice extremist Tennessee Representative Diane Black, House lawmakers are seeking to allow companies to opt out of the law that requires them to offer insurance plans covering contraception.
While the current statue ensures that many women have access to basic preventative healthcare that they might not otherwise be able to afford, some companies have brought forth religious objections. Several lawsuits are pending throughout the nation, though it looks unlikely that the courts will find the religious objection convincing in the case of for-profit companies.
The additional measure in the short-term spending solution also expands protection for entities that refuse to provide abortion services. Although the President has previously signed an executive order upholding the administration’s adherence to the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits any federal funding of abortion or abortion coverage, some extreme lawmakers have continued to push on the issue.
Many people are upset and dismayed by the House’s added conscience clause. Not only does the provision represent an extremist view that denies women the most basic healthcare coverage, but it also illustrates the far right’s obsession with social issues even as the nation braces for a government shutdown and serious economic consequences.