• Obama Makes An End-Run Around Conservatives And The Religious Set.

    The only exposure to Catholicism I've had was back in first grade, when my mother placed me in a private Catholic school. I don't remember attending any mass service and I never could (and to this day never did) understand why Catholics placed Mary on an even higher pedestal than Jesus. I never understood the Catholic prohibition on birth control, either. God had His famous "be fruitful and multiply" command, but I don't think He meant that as a clarion call for reproductive recklessness, nor as a blank check for patriarchal authority figures to grab women by the ovaries and dictate what they could and could not do with their own bodies.

    But that's what many religious figures and prominent conservative figures have done. One major roadblock towards birth control coverage in health insurance plans was the religious opposition to it. In effect, religious figures and employers with a religious bent did not want any culpability in allowing a woman to receive contraceptives or abortions on their healthcare plans. The GOP, which would prefer women not having any access to anything other than the finest back-alley clinics, often stood in solidarity. The Democrat Party, when faced with this immobile opposition would have rolled themselves up like an old rug and rolled out the door in defeat. That was then. This is now.

    After two solid weeks of Republicans rapidly escalating attacks on contraception access under the banner of "religous freedom," Obama finally announced what the White House is proposing an accomodation of religiously affiliated employers who don't want to offer birth control coverage as part of their insurance plans. In those situations, the insurance companies will have to reach out directly to employees and offer contraception coverage for free, without going through the employer.

    The significance of this? Religious organizations and employers can't cross their arms and declare "you shall not pass" when it comes to contraception and reproductive health coverage, not when the insurance companies themselves can simply walk around this obstacle and offer said coverage directly to those employees. There. Those organizations won't have to get their hands dirty over "material cooperation with evil." Insurance companies are down with the idea, from a pragmatic monetary standpoint. As it turns out, contraception and abortion are much less expensive than the health care expenses from having an unwanted baby.

    Once again, President Obama proves that the best way to deal with an unmovable object is to simply walk around it. He stands to gain a groundswell of support from women, plus he managed to make Mitt Romney and his fellow GOPers look rather silly.