US News & World Report columnist Mary Kate Cary says that there are some misconceptions about the effect of the HHS contraception mandate:
The conventional wisdom is that the fight over the contraception coverage badly hurt Republicans, who Democrats have delighted in saying are running a "war on women," who face a "health crisis" due to lack of access to contraception.
The conventional wisdom is wrong. Contrary to what you might read in the press, it's actually the Democrats who are being hurt and Republicans who have been handed a defining issue for the fall election, especially among women.
The Democrats have tried to portray Republicans as woman haters who live to make contraception illegal. In fact, what the GOP objects to is forcing religiously-affiliated employers to pay for health insurance plans that include contraception, even if they regard it as morally objectionable. For the Democrats to succeed in convincing women that this is a war on women would require women to be morons.
Cary points to a recent CBS/New York that has women going 53 to 38 percent in favor of allowing religiously-affiliated employers to opt out of the contraception mandate. When the religious element is removed, women favor allowing employers to opt out by only 46 to 44 percent.
It may come as a surprise to Democrats, but women can distinguish between a legal right to use contraception and the legal right to force somebody else to pay for something they happen to regard as objectionable. This is not at all subtle, but the apparently Democrats thought it was above our pay grade.
Democrats probably thought the mandate would deliver the women's vote in 2012. But Cary shows why this is not likely to be the case:
That HHS ruling brought home what everyone already suspected about the president's healthcare law: that it is confusing, unnecessary, massive in scope, full of coercive mandates, and will increase costs. And as the implementation stage of the law unfolds, this mandate will be only the tip of the iceberg. More are on their way, from prenatal care to end-of-life issues….
Rather than proving the conventional wisdom that the Catholic Church and Republicans hate women and will do anything to make contraception illegal, the administration's position reminds voters of what they know to be true. They know that an ever-expanding government is a threat to our economic and religious freedom. They fear that as the expansion continues unchecked, it threatens our children's futures, our constitutional rights, and, in the end, our democracy. That's why the conventional wisdom is wrong, and why this issue matters to women.