Little Sisters have new champions, defenders in court

And one fewer Justice on the high court.

On Thursday of last week, Women Speak for Themselves (WSFT) launched a campaign, loosely aligned with Valentine’s Day weekend and beyond, to ‘show a little love to the Little Sisters‘. It coincided with a new website for WSFT, loaded with resources and links to amicus briefs its founder filed at the Supreme Court, including this latest one on behalf of the Little Sisters in their struggle to uphold their religious freedom rights. Two days later, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, great religious freedom defender, suddenly and unexpectedly died.

Why are the Little Sisters of the Poor even in court in the first place? Especially the court system at different levels, reaching all the way to the Supreme Court, doing whatever they can to save their nearly two centuries long ministry to the poor from the threat of government overreach that threatens their services and institutions? Why would the government even do that?

Let’s review. (It’s stunning that we’re still in this situation more than four years after the federal fiat known as the HHS Mandate was issued by the administration’s Department of Health and Human Services, as a contraception delivery scheme slipped into the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.)

For clarity and accessibility, this HHS Info Central has it all: graphics, charts, court challenges, case names and dates and outcomes or facts about pending hearings. It’s a ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ snapshot of the HHS Mandate in Obamacare.

The Little Sisters of the Poor represent the most emblematic case. By far.

In November 2015…

the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to take up the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns facing tens of millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot, according to their faith, include contraceptives in their employee health plan. This is the second time the Sisters have been forced to ask the Supreme Court for protection against the government’s HHS Mandate. The Court’s decision will finally resolve the crucial question of whether governmental agencies can, wholly without legislative oversight, needlessly force religious ministries to violate their faith.

Yes, that’s explicitly the situation.

The Little Sisters, who care for more than 13,000 of the elderly poor around the world, had no choice but to appeal to the Supreme Court due to the government’s refusal to exempt them from the HHS mandate, which is currently in its 9th unacceptable iteration. The mandate forces the Little Sisters to authorize the government to use the Sister’s employee healthcare plan to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs – a violation of their faith – or pay massive fines, which would threaten their religious mission. The Supreme Court entered a temporary order protecting the nuns in January, 2014, but the government has continued litigating, asking lower courts to remove that protection. (emphasis added)

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they are welcomed as Christ. We perform this loving ministry because of our faith and cannot possibly choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith, and we shouldn’t have to,” said Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. “All we ask is that our rights not be taken away. The government exempts large corporations, small businesses, and other religious ministries from what they are imposing on us – we just want to keep serving the elderly poor as we have always done for 175 years. We look forward to the Supreme Court hearing our case, and pray for God’s protection of our ministry.”

They don’t want to be in court. They didn’t pick this fight. They’re about the last people in public service the government should be forcing to deliver contraception and morning after pills in their healthcare plans. And yet, here we are.

So with the Supreme Court taking on the case again, legal scholar Helen Alvare saw the opportunity to present a real challenge to the government’s claim or defense that it has a “compelling interest” in a mandate that burdens religious freedom, one of a two-prong test the Religious Freedom Restoration Act requires for government to enforce anything that violates so fundamental a protected liberty.

First, fleshing out the contents of the “compelling state interest” requirement will provide much-needed guidance in future religious freedom cases. Lawyers are accustomed to encountering compelling state interest analyses in due process and equal protection cases involving fundamental constitutional rights and suspect classifications. There are a significant number of cases interpreting the meaning of a “compelling state interest” in the areas of speech or racial discrimination. But there are fewer in the area of religious freedom…

Second, a “compelling state interest” analysis in the context of a mandate case would shed light on the government’s tendency – especially when contraception programs are concerned – to make extravagant claims without empirical foundation, while threatening the religious freedom of institutions providing unparalleled amounts of service to women. Governments at both the federal and state level have fallen into the habit of using contraception to “signal” their commitment to women’s rights. The facts on the ground, however, are much more complex.

Enter Women Speak for Themselves, which started as an open letter in response to high level women in government purporting to represent women’s rights and claims on services that really didn’t represent vast numbers of American women outside the Washington beltway and across the country. Helen Alvare was co-author of that letter with another lawyer, Kim Daniels. The open letter turned into a grassroots movement that has spread across the country, across demographics and age groups and backgrounds of women engaging these issues at their most local levels and on the national level, through media and initiatives that allow them to contribute to and change the conversation by sharing their lived experiences. It’s a remarkable range of stories from women speaking for women and their families and health and rights.

The Little Sisters are among those for whom they speak. These nuns don’t seek nor want the spotlight, but Pope Francis paid them a surprise visit last September while in DC during his US apostolic journey, and House Speaker Paul Ryan featured them as his guests among invited attendees – in a moment of irony – to President Obama’s final State of the Union Address in January.

Interestingly, the American Spectator noticed, and pointed out that Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the one who granted them a temporary injunction against punitive fines for not following the mandate, as they pursued permanent relief. Her vote will be needed again when the case is argued before the Supreme Court during Holy Week, in March 2016. Because if she comes down on the liberal side of reading religious freedom as applied to this case, and the court votes 4-4 in the absence of Justice Scalia, religious liberty will face a ‘calamity‘.

The Little Sisters would be forced to violate their faith by subsidizing the distribution of abortifacients, sterilization, and contraceptives to their employees or face ruinous IRS fines. The government exempts a wide variety of religious ministries from the contraception mandate. But the Obama administration insisted that this organization run by Catholic nuns, which has been providing free health care to elderly patients of every race and religion since 1839, is somehow not eligible for the usual exemption. Incredibly, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the government.

…Before Justice Scalia’s tragic death, there was a reasonable chance that the Little Sisters and six other organizations with which the Court consolidated their case might prevail.

Now, unless one of the four liberal justices — Breyer, Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor — casts an uncharacteristically nonpartisan vote, a 4-4 vote is all but inevitable.

For once, instead of Justice Anthony Kennedy holding the pivotal swing vote, it may rest with Sotomayor. Or Chief Justice John Roberts, who can work to sway the court in a couple of directions to avoid a calamity.

In the immediate aftermath of Justice Scalia’s untimely death, the Little Sisters of the Poor (with the help of technically proficient friends) released this new website making this whole story much pithier and easier to grasp than ever. Have a look, it’s all there.

Who they are:

The Little Sisters of the Poor have dedicated their lives to living with and caring for the elderly poor. They have been focused on service, not advocacy or policy, and, in this case, they’ve exhausted every option possible before going to court.

What this case is about:

After promising that the Little Sisters’ religious beliefs would be protected, the government created a new regulation requiring the Little Sisters to change their healthcare plan to offer services that violate Catholic teaching. But 1 in 3 Americans do not have a plan that is subject to the mandate HHS is fighting so hard to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to follow. Exxon, Chevron, and Pepsi — as well as other large corporations — are exempt from the mandate, because they never changed their plans and are grandfathered. And the government is not even requiring our own US military to provide these services through their family insurance.

The government is arguing that since it has offered to reimburse the costs of the services it wants the Little Sisters to provide, they should have no moral objection to offering them. The Little Sisters are saying this is not about money, but conscience, and whether they should be forced to change their healthcare plan to offer services they have a moral objection to when those services could be provided more effectively through the government’s healthcare exchange.

And what the solution may, or can, be.

There is an easy solution that protects the Little Sisters’ religious freedom and the right of the government to offer these services to women who want them. Rather than trying to force religious plans to offer these services, the better solution is for the government to provide these services through the ACA healthcare exchange to any employees who want them but can’t get them through employer plans.

The Little Sisters are not trying to prevent the government from providing these services, but object to the government’s insisting the Little Sisters provide them (especially since the government has already refused to ensure that those free services are provided to one in three Americans). Giving all women access to contraception through the healthcare exchange is a simpler and fairer way for the government to provide these services to more women while protecting the religious freedom of the Little Sisters, who never wanted this fight and just want to get back to caring for the elderly in need.

They can use all the help and advocacy they can get. Women Speak for Themselves is providing the vehicle, and the avenue. It’s up to people to drive it home.

 

Obama campaign ads

The president’s campaign is running some ads aimed at ‘the women vote’ that are more revealing of how he regards voters than anything else. And they reveal a lot about his character.

First we got the Life of Julia ad campaign.

The slide show narrative follows Julia, a cartoon character, from age 3 to age 67 and explains how Obama’s policies, from Head Start to Obamacare to mandated contraception coverage to Medicare reform, would provide Julia with a better life than Mitt Romney or Paul Ryan could.

Julia is not your typical all-American girl, but an obviously independent, yuppie liberal woman. She goes to public school, graduates college, and becomes a Web designer. She is able to pursue her career because, at age 27, “her health insurance is required to cover birth control and preventive care, letting Julia focus on her work rather than worry about her health.”

At age 31 she “decides to have a child,” with no mention of a father or husband. Her son Zachary heads off to a Race to the Top funded public school, while Julia goes on to start her own Web business. She retires at age 67 with Social Security and Medicare supporting her financially and spends her later years volunteering in a community garden.

Julia’s happily-ever-after tale is remarkably void of reality. Nowhere in her fictional life is it mentioned that Head Start has done little, if anything, to improve elementary education, that she will likely graduate with $25,000 in student loan debt, that she has a 50% chance of being unemployed or underemployed after college, that Medicare and Social Security are headed toward insolvency, and that her share of the national debt is $50,000 and growing.

For Republicans, Julia’s story might seem like a joke too good to be true, but they should take it very seriously. Because buried within “The Life of Julia” is the ideological vision of modern liberalism — to create a state that takes care of its people from cradle to grave. The story of Julia is a microcosm of Obama’s vision for America and emblematic of his view of the government’s role in an individual’s life.

That whole thing was demeaning to women who don’t rely on government as their provider and caretaker. Women who don’t place a primacy of importance on government provision of their birth control and reproductive choices.

 Like Women Speak for Themselves women, like Helen Alvare and Kim Daniels and Colleen Carroll Campbell and Jenn Giroux and Carrie Severino and others.

Kathleen Parker recently weighed in on the bogus ‘war on women’ campaign and the nonsense that feeds it.

Then came the latest, the YouTube ‘first time’ video.

This week marks an especially repugnant page in President Obama’s catalog of attempts to woo young female voters.  In an online ad titled “Your First Time,” featuring actress Lena Dunham, the President’s campaign drew an offensive and distasteful parallel between losing one’s virginity and the “awesome” experience of voting for Mr. Obama.

Explaining that it’s “super uncool” to abstain from the election, Miss Dunham says she became a woman when she voted for the President, and was honored to “do it” with a guy who cares about her right to taxpayer-funded birth control.

Until very recently, it would have been unthinkable for any politician, let alone the President of the United States, to endorse an ad that so trivializes sex and demeans the importance of a chaste lifestyle.  Mr. Obama apparently thinks he speaks for women by endlessly insisting on their right to taxpayer-funded birth control and abortions. But in fact, Gallup polls show that social issues and birth control rank among the least important issues in this election cycle. The economy, which voters deem as their greatest concern, has plagued women during Obama’s presidency. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among women has risen from 7 percent to 8.1 percent and from 12.5 percent to 14.4 among young women during his administration. Women have regressed during the last four years, and many are now supporting Governor Romney.

President Obama enjoys indicting his opponents as propagators of a “war on women.”  But what is truly demeaning is to suggest that the womanhood of female voters depends on his reelection, and a few newly minted goodies that will make it easier to have uncommitted sex without regard for the sanctity of life.

Catholic scholar George Weigel calls it the ‘Lolita ad’, for obvious reason.

In it, Lena Dunham, the creator of HBO’s smutty Girls, offers advice to seemingly innocent young women and other onlookers. The 26-year-old star, who has the look and mannerisms of a 13-year-old, channels her inner Lolita and coos the following:

Your first time shouldn’t be with just anybody. You want to do it with a great guy. It should be with a guy . . . who really cares about and understands women.

A guy who cares about whether you get health insurance, and specifically whether you get birth control. The consequences are huge. You want to do it with a guy who brought the troops out of Iraq. You don’t want a guy who says ‘Oh, hey, I’m at the library studying,’ when he’s really out not signing the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Or who thinks that gay people should never have beautiful, complicated weddings of the kind we see on Bravo or TLC all the time . . .

Think about how you want to spend those four years. In college-age time, that’s 150 years. Also, it’s super uncool to be out and about and someone says, ‘Did you vote?’ and ‘No, I didn’t vote, I wasn’t ready.’ My first time voting was amazing. It was this line in the sand. Before I was a girl. Now I was a woman. I went to the polling station and pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack Obama.

Voting as analogy to recreational sex underwritten financially by tax dollars: That’s what the Obama campaign imagines to be a winning strategy in fighting what it is pleased to call the “War against Women.” Showcasing Sandra Fluke at the Democratic National Convention was not, as the Marxists used to say, an accident: This is an administration that seems to imagine that America is a nation of Sandra Flukes (and their gigolos), and that this is a Good Thing.

Even attempting to parse this kind of vulgarity seems demeaning, although it’s clear enough that the administration is committed to an ideology of lifestyle libertinism that it is eager to “impose on a pluralistic society” (as the vice president would not put it). So let’s just say that the Lolita ad is ugly, coarse, breathtakingly stupid, and profoundly anti-woman — which tells us something about the character of the people who create and authorize such ads, even as it further clarifies their vision of the American future.

Beauty is a window into what is true and good and life-giving. Ugliness helps us understand what is base, ignoble, and dehumanizing. That’s worth keeping in mind when entering the voting booth.

Conventional wisdom on women’s issues

Who proclaims to speak for women’s concerns in America? Both political parties are trying to answer that. The Democrats are staking everything on it.

Last week, experts were telling me the Democratic National Convention will be a celebration of abortion. This week, it’s starting to look more like they were right.

Take this ABC News report, for instance, with Sandra Fluke calling Republican policies “dangerous for women.” She allegedly “speaks for a new generation of young women.” At least according to that report.

But wait.

I’ve had a bunch of young women on my radio show who speak for themselves, and other young and multi-generational women for whom Fluke, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Planned Parenthood head Cecile Richards and other pro-abortion women do not speak.

In fact, a movement of them sprang up to do just that, speak for themselves. They have quite a formidable presence on Facebook.

While Fluke and other Democrats try to make political hay with the frankly bizarre remarks of one lone Republican about abortion after rape, an interesting development has received virtually no coverage in big media from a group of women most qualified to speak to this subject. 

Every year, legislators, judges, and other policy makers discuss the problems of women who have become pregnant as a result of sexual assault. These discussions take place without ever first soliciting our input. In most cases, it is only in the context of highly divisive debates over abortion that we are discussed. In virtually every case, those people who claim to be defending our interests have never taken the time to actually listen to us to learn about our true circumstances, needs, and concerns.

We are deeply offended and dismayed each time our difficult circumstances are exploited for public consumption to promote the political agenda of others. This is a grave injustice. In pursuing their political agendas, these exploiters have reduced our concerns, needs, and circumstances to a crude caricature.

Those who claim to represent our interests have never sought our authorization to represent us. They do not know us, understand us, or truly care about us. Just as we were once used, without our consent, to gratify the sexual desires of others, so we continue to be used, without our consent, to gratify the political goals of others.

Only we who have actually experienced a sexual assault pregnancy truly understand the trauma, fears, concerns, and needs of our sisters who are, or will someday become, pregnant as a result of rape or incest.

Each year, thousands of women will face this experience. Unless society at large begins to listen to us today, these other women will, like us, face great difficulty in finding authentic understanding and help…

We are the only ones who can bear witness to our real experiences and our real needs. How long will you refuse to listen to us?

They should be heard. Dignity and respect requires no less, and honesty demands that those who deign to speak for them first listen to them.

That’s just one problem for the Democrat’s convention so targeted to a liberal women’s agenda, which doesn’t speak for other women’s concerns, as the Democrats for Life found out when they tried to have a voice in the party platform drafting process.

A Democratic committee has rejected efforts to broaden the party’s platform in order to acknowledge and welcome “differing positions” on the issue of abortion.

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, told CNA on Aug. 15 that there is a lack of understanding about the extent of pro-life support within the Democratic Party.

They will not be well represented at the party convention, as even some feminists concede in their own way when the edict against babies went out.

Feminists are denouncing a rule at the upcoming Democratic National Convention that will bar children, including breastfeeding babies, from entering the event without being credentialed.

Critics say that officials for the event slated to begin Sept. 4 in Charlotte make it difficult for moms to credential their children, leaving delegate moms at a loss as to how to provide for their tots.

Top feminist icon Gloria Steinem said that by not even offering child care at the event the Democratic Party will alienate female voters, and that the party should acknowledge that, where there are women, there are occasionally babies too.

Credit Steinem is honest here.

“Women are the key to a Democratic victory, and sometimes, children are the key to women,” said Steinem in a statement noted by the Charlotte Observer. “It’s both right and smart for the Democratic Convention to behave as if children exist.”

Others spoke out too.

“The DNC requires children and babies to have a credential to enter the convention, and then denies these credential requests from moms,” said Hollywood NOW President Lindsey Horvath. “The DNC credentialing process is being used as a tool to prevent mothers from participating at the convention and is nothing short of discriminatory.”

Breathtaking, really, given the pitch for the women vote.

California Democrat Susie Shannon, 45, who planned to come to the convention with her 4-year-old daughter Gracie, called [convention spokeswoman Joanne] Peters’ response “not enough.”

“When the Democratic Party refuses to provide child care at the convention and denies automatic access for young children to join their moms who serve as delegates on the convention floor, an entire group of women are disenfranchised,” said Shannon. “Moms with young children 6 years of age and under who cannot be left at home, some of whom are breast-feeding, are relegated to second-class status within the Democratic convention.”

These next two weeks will be illuminating on many issues. This is a big one.

Who speaks for women?

Now that’s become a very interesting question.

This election, candidates and campaigns are as focused as ever on demographics. But this year, the ‘Woman Vote’ has either hit a new stride, or been thrust into a endurance marathon. The competition over who speaks for women hasn’t been this strong since the original feminists emerged. That competition has re-emerged because their voices and message have been subjugated since Roe.

Every year since Roe, the March for Life rally on the Mall of Washington has continued to draw larger numbers of pro-life advocates, well over 200,000 participants from around the nation and the world, braving some of the worse winter weather and other hardships  and winding up joyful and energetic in the harshest conditions to stand up for the right to life.  And they’re increasingly young participants.

So in this election year madness with the HHS mandate calling contraception, morning after pills and sterilization procedures ‘women’s preventive health’, and enforcing it on virtually all employers’ health care plans  no matter whether it violates their conscience or morally informed beliefs about the dignity of all human beings…or not…the issue is prominent in politics and public debate.

The ‘Women Vote’ has become a key battleground for candidates, as if it were monolithic. Stabs have been made to shore up support for the HHS mandate, or at least the appearance of it, and they have fallen way short of anything significant.

The other day, there was a ‘We Are Women’ rally, which drew a scattering but got shored up by hyperbolic media. Take this report, for example:

Women across the country participated in “We Are Women” rallies on Saturday to protest state legislation limiting access to contraception and abortion. Hundreds of advocates gathered in Kansas, Colorado, Virginia, Florida, Arkansas, Idaho, and Oklahoma to demand that lawmakers abandon efforts to undermine women’s health.

“Today’s rally was part of a national movement that has had enough of the war on women,” Kansas rally organizer Kari Ann Rinker said.

This is sheer sophistry, an exercise in wordplay. There is virtually unlimited access to abortion and contraception in this country. The aggression over moving the bar has been on the side of abortion and contraception activists to make it now a luxury paid for by employers and everyone else in spite of birth control pills posing dangers that undermine women’s health. Oh, the irony.

What isn’t being talked about is that the new mandate also pre-disposes women to serious long term and permanent health problems. In conjunction with the defense of both religious liberty and the spiritual well-being of women, we must also refute the absurd and deceptive statement that “women are healthier on birth control.”

Providing free hormonal birth control to women under the guise of ‘preventative services’ and ‘women’s health’ is a lie and women of all faiths deserve to know the truth.

Hormonal birth control methods can enter the body in various ways. These ways include ‘The Pill’ (by mouth), the Mirena IUD (Intrauterine Device), the implant (placed under the skin), ‘the Patch’ (absorbed through the skin), and the Vaginal Nuvaring. There are many other estrogen -progestin name brands that can be added to this list. Any way you name it, these hormone drugs dispense poison into a woman’s body.

Perhaps HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius should inform her President of the following before he makes additional statements to the press like “it is cheaper to prevent than to treat.” Consider this:

— Since 1975 there has been a 400% increase in “in situ” breast cancer among pre-menopausal women under 50 years old. This mirrors the increased use of birth control over these same years. (“In situ” is a medical term which means “at the location”.

— A Mayo Clinic study confirms that any young girl or woman who is on hormonal birth control for 4 years prior to their first full term pregnancy increases their breast cancer risk by 52%.

— Women who use hormonal birth control for more than 5 years are four times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

— The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a research arm of the World Health Organization, classifies all forms of hormonal contraception as a Group 1 carcinogen. This group of cancer causing agents also includes cigarettes and asbestos. Why is it that the FDA can require cigarette manufacturers to place warning labels and real life photos of corpses on cigarette packages to warn consumers of the health dangers yet they, in turn, take an equally harmful substance (hormonal birth control) and force companies to give it away free to young girls without parental consent and woman of all ages?

— For high school boys and men to take steroid drugs, it is a crime. Whereas girls and women taking steroid drugs (i.e. hormonal birth control) are now treated as if they are taking a sacred, life preserving vitamin that women cannot live without.

That nails it.

This is not information that should be kept from the public. Women deserve to be told the truth. They are not being warned that birth control methods are causing breast, liver, and cervical cancer. They are not being told about the “silent killer” effect which is causing them to unknowingly abort their babies. They are instead being told that they are healthier on birth control because it decreases ovarian and uterine cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, out of 100 women with cancer, 31 have breast cancer, 6 have uterine cancer, and 3 have ovarian cancer. This is not a healthy tradeoff of risks that is worth taking.

If, indeed,” it is cheaper to prevent than to treat” then it is time for the White House, Kathleen Sebeilius, and all health agencies within the government to sound the warning trumpet to warn women on hormonal birth control about these devastating medical consequences.

Clearly, birth control does not help women at risk, it places women at risk.

So this small ‘We Are Women’ rally draws a small group of demonstrators and gets hyped as ‘thousands, nationwide’ while the ‘March for Life’ rally gets virtually igorned each January.

But media attention is irrelevant for the validation of some strong women’s initiatives growing and spreading now since the HHS mandate was announced. Like ‘Women Speak for Themselves.’ Who are being validated by new signers every day.

WSFT began with an open letter to the White House, Congress and Secretary Sebelius in February 2012, demanding respect both for religious freedom and for an understanding of woman’s freedom and equality that goes beyond “free contraception.”  It now has over 31 thousand signatories from every state.

“It defies reason that a few groups could speak for all women on issues of life, family, sex and religion,” said WSFT founder, Helen Alvare.

“The 31,000 plus women who have signed onto our open letter will no longer sit silently by while a few political figures and their allies insist that religious freedom has to bow to the theory, the ideology really, that the centerpiece of women’s freedom is sexual expression without commitment,” continued Alvare.

Catherine, a woman in her twenties living in New York City and a signatory, wrote to WSFT: “Out of respect for themselves and others, many women choose to live a life of sexual integrity…Many of my girlfriends and I have found this approach to our sexuality to be freeing, empowering, and constitutive of a deep sense of happiness.”

“I’m a pro-choice woman who respects the rights of other women to hold different views,” wrote another WSFT member Carol, from Vermont. “More specifically I expect the government, in compliance with the Constitution, to protect every person from being coerced into acting in a manner contrary to his or her conscience. The HHS mandates are a fundamental violation of our rights to free speech and religion.”

Hundreds more women wrote to WSFT to express their strong opposition to the message of the Saturday rally.

Here’s their message:

“An honest ‘We Are Women’ rally would acknowledge the diverse views held by women. It would acknowledge the science about the decline in women’s well-being associated with the world view this rally represents,” Alvare says. “No one speaks for all women on these issues. Let women speak for themselves.”

The bogus birth control controversy

President Obama’s mandate requiring free access to contraception with virtually no employer exemption is at core a consitutional threat to religious liberty, not a heated debate about contraception and Church teaching. However, it quickly turned into that.

So now that we’re on the subject

Advocates of President Obama’s contraception mandate should admit that its main purpose is sexual liberation and not “women’s health,” according to a feminist author who supports the mandate.

“The phrase ‘women’s health’ in the birth control dispute is the latest nimble euphemism,” author and blogger Pamela Haag wrote in a Feb. 17 essay published on the “Marriage 3.0” blog.

Access to contraception, she said, “isn’t really about my ‘health.’ It’s not principally about the management of ovarian cysts or the regulation of periods.”

“Birth control isn’t about my health unless by ‘health’ you mean, my capacity to get it on, to have a happy, joyous sex life that involves an actual male partner,” wrote Haag, criticizing White House supporters for discussing contraceptives mainly as “preventive services” for women’s health.

“The point of birth control is to have sex that’s recreational and non-procreative,” wrote Haag approvingly. “It’s to permit women to exercise their desires without the ‘sword of Damocles’ of unwanted pregnancy hanging gloomily over their heads.”

And now that women are speaking out

In recent posts on CNA’s Catholic Womanhood page, columnists attacked the mandate from various angles – some addressed the issue of religious freedom while others questioned the validity of abortifacients, sterilization and contraception being labeled as “basic medical care” for women.

The articles come amid a storm of protest over the administration’s Jan. 20 announcement that religious institutions will have to cover these services in employer-provided health insurances plans.

Here’s one.

Now, before anyone gets too hot and bothered over the topic du jour of contraception and whether or not the government (ahem, the taxpayers, aka you and I) should pony up the cash to make it free for all, let’s take a moment to examine the science behind that wonder pill that has freed women from the tyranny of childbearing and the slavery of motherhood … and ask ourselves frankly, “has it all been worth it?”

I’ve seen more passion on Facebook in the past 3 weeks over bedroom matters than can be contained in the entire Twilight series … and then some.

It would seem that the argument, rather than being framed as a matter of religious freedom, (Should the Catholic Church be forced to violate her own beliefs and recount her stance on a major moral issue at the behest of a civil government?) has become something more of an entitlement issue (Do American women have the right to demand, from their fellow citizens, a subsidized supply of contraceptive drugs or devices in order to manage their sex lives?)

So it’s a lively debate, to put it mildly. Women are engaged.

Including this powerful nun named Mother Angelica. Whose concern is at least as much about constitutionally protected religious liberty as anything.