March 2 2012
Did you think Mitt Romney had done a flip flop on the issue of religious freedom, being against the Blunt Amendment before he was for it?
I was thinking that was the case, too, until I read a succinct explanation of what actually happened in today’s Wall Street Journal: Romney was asked by reporters if he favored the Blunt Rubio amendment (there is no such thing) that would allow employers to ban contraception.
Put that way, the Blunt amendment sounded like something Romney could not support. The Blunt amendment was not about contraception. Though prompted by the Obama administration’s mandate to force faith-based organizations to pay for health insurance policies that provide contraception and abortifacients without a copay, even if they regard it as morally objectionable, the Blunt amendment made absolutely no attempt to ban contraception.
The Blunt amendment was an attemp to uphold religious freedom, a bedrock value of our republic. It said that employers could opt out of paying for policies that provided for services that the employer believed to be sinful.
Not forcing somebody to violate her conscience is very different from banning contraception. Contraception is widely and inexpensively available, and the Blunt amendment proposed nothing to change this.
The Wall Street Journal editorial notes that Democrats “don’t dare accurately describe their own positions.” The rhetoric on the Blunt amendment has been over the top:
Nancy Pelosi called it "devastating legislation" and "the latest ploy in the Republican agenda of disrespecting the health of American women." Planned Parenthood claimed the "dangerous proposal" would have allowed "your boss"—yes, yours—to decide "which prescriptions you can get filled and which medical procedures you can have," including cancer screening, maternity care and AIDS medications.
It sounds medieval. But in fact, the provision that the Senate tabled yesterday would merely have restored the status quo ante of one month ago. Those were the dark ages before the Obama Administration overturned traditional conscience protections with its birth-control insurance mandate under the Affordable Care Act.
The media has been all too happy to oblige the Democrats by mischaracterizing the issue--a Washington Post headline, for example, refers to the amendment as the “birth control exemption bill,” not the "conscience bill" or the "religious freedom bill."
The Christian Science Monitor asks if support for the Blunt amendment could “backfire” for the GOP. Unfortunately, it might if they can’t get through the filters and explain what is at stake. It is not contraception.