Monday, May 21, 2012

You really want another fight over birth control?

Forty-three Catholic groups, including the University of Notre Dame and Archdioceses of New York and Washington, have sued the Obama administration over a controversial mandate requiring employers to offer insurance plans that include contraception coverage.

In a coordinated filing of 12 lawsuits in federal courts across the country, the groups argue that the mandate would unconstitutionally force religiously-affiliated institutions, like Catholic schools and hospitals, to indirectly subsidize contraception for female employees in violation of religious beliefs.

President Obama in February attempted to accommodate the groups' concerns with an administrative compromise he said would ensure no religious organization had to pay for or provide the services directly. But today’s lawsuits signal that the Catholics groups found the effort insufficient.

Actually, this is bad for Romney, who wants the focus now and through November to be on the economy (and on his own various anti-Obama smears), not social issues, and particularly not something as hugely popular as birth control. (Look for Mitt to do his utmost to wave away this matter. He could instead go after the president over his health-care reforms generally, but of course those reforms are based largely on Mitt's own from Massachusetts.)

It was bad for Santorum to emphasize his retrograde views on birth control during the Republican primaries, and it'll be bad for Republicans this fall that these high-profile Catholic organizations are going there again -- either Republicans side with them, in which case they find themselves opposed to public opinion, or they try to distance themselves from them, and from this non-issue generally (birth control being, and having been for decades, a mostly settled matter, with most Catholics disagreeing with their church's leaders), in which case they find themselves opposed to much of their own right-wing base, which continues to espouse views way outside the mainstream of American society.

You really want this fight? Bring. It. On. (As Dubya might say.)

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