Editor’s Note: A version of the this article was published at Politico.com. Click here to read it.
Earlier this week, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, cried wolf once more regarding a “war on women” because House Republicans voted on Saturday to delay Obamacare for a year. She argues that “a narrow group of Republican leaders in the House are pushing to shut down the entire federal government over women’s access to birth control, cancer screenings and other basic health care.”
If the only issues on the table were non-controversial services like cancer screenings and immunizations, then there would be no debate, but that’s not the reality.
No, this issue is far more complicated. Seventy-two percent of Americans oppose funding abortions through any federally run health plan. Men oppose taxpayer-funded abortions by a 73-21 percent margin, while women also oppose it by 70-25 percent. Americans may want better health care, but not at the expense of promoting abortion. Planned Parenthood’s radical dream of any number of “free” abortions for any reason at any point in a pregnancy is an affront to the majority of America’s women, and particularly to women of faith.
In fact, Monday, the same day Richards’s piece ran, marked the 37th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, which wrote into law that federal dollars could not be used to subsidize most abortions. This legislation, which only applies to certain pots of money, not Obamacare, passes every year with bipartisan backing. There is good reason for that. It enjoys broad support from Americans.
The issue of contraceptives in American life is also complicated. My group, Concerned Women for America, has no position on the issue of contraceptives. Our members hold a variety of views on the subject. However, many Catholic women follow the church’s teaching on the use of contraceptives. Evangelicals overwhelmingly oppose abortion and support First Amendment rights to religious freedom. Regardless of those views, taxpayers already spend $278.3 million per year providing access through Title X, and that does not include the funding for family planning under Medicaid.
The free market has stepped up as well. Wal-Mart stores nationwide sell birth control for as low as $9 a month.
However, Obamacare upped the ante by forcing all health-care plans to include both birth control and even more controversial drugs such as Ella and Plan B as part of their “essential services.”
And contraceptives are not the only issue. The exchanges that opened this week will force millions of Americans to unknowingly subsidize elective abortion coverage. Many of these plans will charge enrollees an “abortion surcharge,” a minimum of $1 per month, which pays into an abortion slush fund. The regulations also contain a “secrecy clause” to conceal the existence of the “abortion surcharge” until the moment of enrollment. This surcharge is only disclosed in the fine print, without itemization in the monthly premium, and is never disclosed again.
Since the introduction of what came to be called the “contraception mandate,” religious groups and especially Christian groups have been fighting it on the grounds that it violates religious liberties. Being forced to offer or buy a plan that pays for someone’s contraception, sterilization or abortion is not only offensive, but is also a direct violation to the faith principles of Christians, and they, therefore, must object to Obamacare’s provisions. Unfortunately, the Obama administration ignored their concerns and issued the final rule in July 2013.
Richards dismisses these women as merely expressing a “personal ‘moral’ objection.” Are they less entitled to their rights than those of abortion advocates? Why is it that only the beliefs of liberal women count? It’s our money. Shouldn’t Planned Parenthood simply raise the money needed to support its views and services the old-fashioned way rather than through government bullying?
Stories to support this reasoning abound. One group of nuns, Little Sisters of the Poor, is suing the government because Obamacare’s regulations force them to break the vows they have taken. These nuns run more than 30 facilities in the United States “to offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to himself.”
It would be laughable if it weren’t so offensive that the Obama administration thinks that a group of impoverished nuns should be forced to pay for contraceptives for the likes of Sandra Fluke. The left, however, doesn’t see this. And the White House is determined to force women of faith to violate their consciences in order to curry favor with another group of women.
The truth is that much of this battle is more complicated than Richards chooses to admit. We, as women of faith, are standing our ground against another group of women who seek to force us to subsidize choices we find immoral. Turns out the “war on women” is actually a civil war.