Fisking three dishonest Democrat senators on the subject of ObamaCare’s birth control mandate

The last two times I fisked, I was attacking solo acts.  This time, I get a triumvirate, as the three most liberal women in the United States Senate, Barbara Boxer, Patty Murray, and Jeanne Shaheen, have joined together to write an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, justifying ObamaCare’s intrusion into the realm of religion.  I cannot resist the fisk.

It was a historic victory for women’s health when the Obama administration changed the law to require private health plans to provide preventive services including breast exams, HIV screening and contraception for free. This new policy will help millions of women get the affordable care they need.

[This is simply ideology blah-blah.  Women get free stuff.  Men don’t.  It hardly seems fair to me.]

Now, sadly, there is an aggressive and misleading campaign to deny this benefit to women. It is being waged in the name of religious liberty. But the real forces behind it are the same ones that sought to shut down the federal government last year over funding for women’s health care. They are the same forces that just tried to pressure the Susan G. Komen Foundation into cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood for breast-cancer screenings. Once again, they are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.

[The above is an impressively misleading paragraph, conflating core constitutional rights with marketplace pressures.  The ObamaCare fight is a war of religious liberty, insofar as the Obama administration, contrary to the limitation that the First Amendment imposes upon the federal government, is trying to force religious organizations to engage in practices that directly contradict core doctrinal matters.  The other fight arose from the fact that a privately funded charity wanted to stop providing money to an organization that (a) is being investigated for corruption; (b) receives massive amounts of federal dollars; (c) is one of the largest abortion providers in the country; and (d) does almost no “breast-cancer screenings” but, instead, simply refers women to other providers.  Having the facts kind of makes a mockery out the triumvirate’s claim that those opposed to the ObamaCare mandate “are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.”]

We are very glad that the president has stood up to these forces while protecting religious freedom on all sides. His administration should be commended, not criticized.

[There’s that new-speak again — the president “protects” religious freedom by imposing doctrinal mandates on religious organizations.]

Contraception was included as a required preventive service on the recommendation of the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families. Access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality, can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, and is linked to overall good health outcomes. Nationwide, 1.5 million women use contraceptives only as treatment for serious medical conditions. Most importantly, broadening access to birth control will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions, a goal we all should share.

[Been here, done that.  This is the big lie at the heart of the Obama administration’s attack on traditional religious institutions.  These harpies constantly conflate the availability of birth control with funding for birth control.  They are not the same.  Women in America can get birth control.  The government can fund organizations — indeed, it already does with the monies that go to Planned Parenthood — that provide all these birth control options.  Forcing religious organizations to pay for birth control, sterilization and abortifacients, however, both exceeds the government’s power and contravenes the limitations the Bill of Rights imposes on government.  This is not about whether women should have birth control; it’s about with the government can force churches to pay for it.]

Proper family planning through birth control results in healthier mothers and children, which benefits all of us. It saves us money too: The National Business Group on Health—a nonprofit whose members are primarily Fortune 500 companies and large public-sector employers—estimated that it costs 15% to 17% more for employers to exclude birth-control coverage, both because other medical costs rise and because of lost productivity.

[See above.  Apples and oranges.  Even accepting as true every single statement in the above paragraph, that still doesn’t give the administration the right or power to force churches to fund birth control, sterilization and abortifacients.]

Contraception is not a controversial issue for the vast majority of Americans. Some 99% of women in the U.S. who are or have been sexually active at some point in their lives have used birth control, including 98% of Catholic women, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A recent survey by Hart Research shows 71% of American voters, including 77% of Catholic women voters, supported this provision broadening access to birth control.


Consistent with other federal policies, churches and other groups dedicated to teaching religious doctrine are exempted from providing this coverage under a “conscience clause.” But the law does include institutions that have historic religious ties but also have a broader mission, such as hospitals and universities. That’s also consistent with federal policy—and with laws that already exist in many states.

[Boot strapping argument here.  The second sentence assumes that the law is allowed to include institutions that aren’t dedicated solely to religious activity, and staffed solely by core religious employees, and then says that, because the law includes them, therefore the inclusion is consistent with federal policy.  And, as did Sebelius, these gals wrongly look to state law, as if the states’ acts give the federal government powers denied it under the Constitution.]

Those now attacking the new health-coverage requirement claim it is an assault on religious liberty, but the opposite is true. Religious freedom means that Catholic women who want to follow their church’s doctrine can do so, avoiding the use of contraception in any form. But the millions of American women who choose to use contraception should not be forced to follow religious doctrine, whether Catholic or non-Catholic.

[Nothing now prevents church employees from buying and using contraception.  They’ve been able to do so freely, in all 50 states, since the Griswold case in 1965.  What does exist now is a Big Rule saying that the government cannot force religious organizations to engage in acts that violate doctrine.  The First Amendment is explicit:  “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  Right now, there are no laws prohibiting Catholic women from doing whatever the heck they please regarding their health care and contraceptive choices.  The only difference now is that never before has the federal government had the temerity to make laws, rules, and regulations that directly implicate an establishment of religion, prohibiting it from freely exercising its faith.]

Catholic hospitals and charities are woven into the fabric of our broader society. They serve the public, receive government funds, and get special tax benefits. We have a long history of asking these institutions to play by the same rules as all our other public institutions.

[Rhetorical sleight of hand.  When it comes to playing by workplace rules, the previous rules didn’t attack doctrine.  This here is a different type of rule.]

So let’s remember who this controversy is really about—the women of America. Already too many women struggle to pay for birth control. According to the Hart Research survey cited above, more than one-third of women have reported having difficulty affording birth control. It can cost $600 a year for prescription contraceptives. That’s a lot of money for a mother working as a medical technician in a Catholic hospital, or a teacher in a private religious school.

[And we’re right back to the cost-shifting argument.  See my discussion, above.]

Improving access to birth control is good health policy and good economic policy. It will mean healthier women, healthier children and healthier families. It will save money for businesses and consumers. We should hold to the promise we made women and provide this access broadly. Our nation will be better for it.


I was going to wrap this up by saying I’ve seldom seen a more ignorant and dishonest piece of advocacy writing. I’ve decided, though, that it’s not ignorant. These gals know what they’re doing and what game they are playing. This is simply dishonest.  It is, however, a fine piece of writing coming from acolytes of the Constitutional law professor who now discovers, seemly for the first time in his intellectual life, that the Founders wisely wanted to limit a nascent dictator’s power:

[T]his week Barack Obama proved himself once again the perfect epigone of Woodrow Wilson—the first president to criticize the Constitution and the principles of the American Founding—with his remarks to NBC’s Matt Lauer that one reason he hasn’t succeeded in fulfilling his campaign promises to transform the world is that “it turns out our Founders designed a system that makes it more difficult to bring about change than I would like sometimes.”  It turns out?  He’s just discovering this now?  (Well, one thing that “turns out” is that the only constitutional law Obama actually taught at the University of Chicago was the equal protection clause.  Apparently he skipped over that whole “separation of powers” stuff.)

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  • Danny Lemieux

    This fits in nicely with the Liberal/Left/Obama doctine that the Constitution should embody positive rights, in that it should mandate what the government will do for you (feed you, clothe you, wipe your…), not just what the government can’t do for/to you.

    The problem, of course, is that when government mandates that you will be fed, clothed or issued “free” contraception, it forces others to pay for it with their taxes ergo labor.

    This is very, very dangerous ground that the Dems are plowing. I hope against the odds that the general populace is waking-up to this threat and not only over First Amendment grounds. 

  • bizcor

    Where in the Constitution does it say that anybody has a right to free stuff….furthermore abstinence is free…
    first I get angry then I want to vomit… 

  • DWBudd

    It’s Barbara Boxer; would you expect anything less?

    One major lie you miss is the idea that contraception (or indeed, any of the catalogue of goodies she leads with) is “free.”  

    Every single service that your insurance company “gives” you for “free” is, of course, paid for by your premiums.  If there weren’t so many ostensibly free things, your monthly premium would be less.

    Companies that give things away for “free” do not stay in business very long.  Unlike the government, they cannot just print money. 

  • pst314

    “Where in the Constitution does it say that anybody has a right to free stuff?”
    In the Constitution that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg longs for.

  • bizcor

    Yes, sadly Jeanne Shaheen is from New Hampshire however our other New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte said today “This is not a women’s rights issue, it’s a religious liberty issue.”

  • Earl

    The whole WSJ piece is a form of distraction….from an issue that involves a LOT more of the American people than just the Catholics.
    Note that we’re being told it’s all about “contraception”, and most Americans don’t have any objection to contraception.  What that means is that we’ve been set up to see this as “government vs. Catholic Church”.  Sad as it is, a lot of folks will take the “First they came for the Catholics…..” stance and figure they don’t have a dog in this fight, so they’ll just keep their head down.
    We know from polling that a majority of people in America accept the reality that an abortion kills an innocent human being in the early stages of its life, and oppose it.  They most certainly do not want to be involved in such things.
    The rule at issue REQUIRES all health plans to include “Plan B”, or “the morning-after pill”, which is a chemical abortifacient.  Its major mode of operation is to remove the uterine lining so that when an already-conceived baby arrives, there’s no place to implant.  In other words, it’s a deliberate act that results in the death of the human embryo…a killing, to be blunt.
    And every large and small business that offers a health plan must now pay for this form of abortion.  Millions of Americans – including Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Evangelicals, and even atheists – who have no objection to contraception, WOULD object to being forced to pay for a chemical abortion, and THAT is why the three worthy ladies don’t mention it.
    Those who are not paying much attention at present will find out later, of course…..when it will be much harder to make the changes necessary – meaning, the total repeal of this regulation, unless there is a robust conscience clause that protects EVERYONE with a principled objection.

  • Libby

    These gals may believe they’ve done a clever job of justifying the HHS mandate, but if the comments on the original WSJ column are any indication, people a definitely not buying it. In fact, I get the sense the people are starting to get insulted about being lied to so blatantly.

  • Wolf Howling

    Book, a superb fisk.  

    Just to add a few thoughts:

    The only way Boxer can refer to the mandate as a protection of “religious liberties” is to do, as Boxer does, wholly redefine the term “religious liberties.”  Her redefinition would wholly deny an institutional right to 1st Amerndment protecitons, and it would amount to nothing more than an individual right to ignore religious precepts.  

    From my own post on this topic, inspired by yours:  “I would also add that I find Obama’s decision to nationalize funding for contraception and abortion to border on the obscene. For one, this is yet another advance down the secular road, where the radical feminists want the act of sex to be wholly devoid of any moral, ethical or physical consequences. Moreover, it furthers the feminist position that abortions should be unconditionally available. This law essentially institutes radical feminist goals as the public policy of our country. Two, why should I or any other American have to fund elective costs that are rightfully at issue between consenting adults? Three, why are woman entitled to this special treatment and not men for specifically male issues? What about the dreaded EDS you hear about in ads every day for Viagra? Again the answer is because this is part of the radical secular agenda being pushed by the feminists.”

    Earl:  Excellent point.  I was wondering precisely that myself.  I am not sure what the legal theory would be for individuals to register their religiously based opposition in this case.  I wonder if a colorable argument could be made using the law of concientious object to the draft.    

  • jj

    Every now and then you just have to sit back and marvel.  I mean, I am awash in wonderment that I live in a country that would allow a trio like this inside the building where decisions are made, let alone a country in which there are regions and populations that would actually elect them to anything.  Look at these three!  People, actual, (alleged) people have voted for them!
    Where the hell did my country go?


    Where the hell did my country go?   Pelosi mentioned it was a swamp in DC – she was wrong, it’s a toilet.

        Interesting Roll Over Map of the breakdown of faiths by state.

  • Michael Adams

    I am so confused.  Somehow, we jumped from “Keep your government out of my womb!” to “use the  money that the government extracted from the citizens by force to pay for my abortions!”

  • Ymarsakar

    Like I said, the Left are a bunch of totalitarian evil death cultists and Obama is evil. Period. What else is new. Circumventing the US Constitution? They Have Been Doing This For Decades. Do you know how many decades?

     Yeah, might want to look that one up.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Interesting site, SADIE. 

    I don’t think that it is very accurate, though. I took a look at Massachusetts and found three of the dominant religious groups missing from the list: Feminists, Wiccans and “House of Kennedy” (did I just repeat myself?).


    2008 B.E. (Before Election)
    “U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama side-stepped a pointed query about abortion on Saturday by ‘mega-pastor’ Rick Warren during a televised forum.Asked at what point a baby gets “human rights,” Obama, who strongly supports abortion rights, said: ‘… whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity … is above my pay grade’ ”.

    And floating around the web today this find – a pro life Obama website (B.E.) 


  • bizcor

    Caught this cartoon over at the American Thinker…. It made me think of this post and comments …I’d wager that many of you visit AT from time to time so you may have already seen it. 

    • Bookworm

      You are all correct. Absolutely and completely. The only wrong one in all of this is the Obama administration, which is doubling down on its position. I’m trying to figure out why it is so intransigent. Yes, it could be satisfying the base, but it strikes me that a lot of the base is getting upset about this one. I wonder if the administration didn’t realize that, even for lukewarm, one-Sunday-a-year Catholics, the kind who happily use contraceptives themselves and don’t mess with other people’s abortion decisions, seeing the government force religions to pay for abortions and contraceptives is one bridge too far. Or does the administrative have some Machiavellian plan here that I’m missing so that, judo-like, they’ll turn the religious protests to their advantage?

  • Charles Martel

    I think we’re back to scorpion-on-the-frog territory here: their nature demands it. Obama and his ilk’s lifting of the leg to piss on Catholicism is instinctive and reflexive. It’s certainly not Machiavellian in the sense that it was hatched by great intelligences or is following some cunning script. The brainpower of the people now wrecking this country flirts with flat-out stupid. No serious adult can look at people like Holder, Sibelius, Jarret, Biden, Boxer or Reid and see anything but tiny, reactionary minds.
    I can guarantee you that these ignoramuses have lived too long in an intellectual bell jar. The oxygen was used up long ago, and the resulting hallucinations are telling them that Catholics and other Christians are just like them: bereft of principles and courage. Their awakening will be very rude.

  • Bettijo

    Instead of talking about women’s rights, these Congressswomen should be telling women about the dangers of the morning after pill. Or, maybe, like the Obamacare bill, they have not read up on the risks. “In August 2000 Michael Cullen, MD, Medical Director at Searle, the manufacturer of Cytotec (the morning-after pill), wrote a letter to the FDA. In it, Dr. Cullen reminded the FDA “Cytotec was not approved for the induction of labor or abortion.” He goes on to say: “Serious adverse events reported following off-label use of Cytotec in pregnant women include maternal or fetal death; uterine hyperstimulation, rupture or perforation requiring uterine surgical repair, hysterectomy or salpingo-oophorectomy; amniotic fluid embolism; severe vaginal bleeding, retained placenta, shock, fetal bradycardia and pelvic pain. ” He establishes that Searle cannot “provide complete risk information” since the drug was not intended to be used for abortion purposes.” e-dangers-of-legal-abortion.html