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Actually, He Stepped Aside and Let the Bishops Jump Into the Empty Pool

[ 136 ] February 10, 2012 |

I rarely disagree with Brother Pierce on non-Billy Beane related issues, but I’m afraid that I must demur this time. In addition to what I’ve already said, a couple points. First, I don’t agree with the slippery slope arguments. As of now, employees will be entitled to exactly the same substantive benefits they were last week, and there’s no reason for insurance companies to object because covering contraception actually saves them money. Nor is true that refusing to make these symbolic non-concessions would somehow make it less likely that the policy will be changed for the worse in the future. Precedents created by Obama will mean less than nothing to President Mittens or President Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver. The only way to preserve political gains going forward is to create powerful allies, and to the extent that they matter today’s changes are a net positive: they created new allies among Catholic health care providers without giving up anything, they didn’t create any new opponents, and they politically undermined the remaining opponents, forcing them to fight on political terrain that is extremely inhospitable.

I also don’t understand the argument that “that women’s-health issues have been treated as little more than a bargaining chip by a Democratic president. Again.” Women’s health issues were not just “treated as a bargaining chip”: the policy announced today, in fact, maintains very real gains for women’s health and equity. The Obama administration has made bad decisions on these issues before, but this isn’t one of those times. If the argument is that core progressive values were part of a political negotiation, well, yes. That’s what politics is. The only thing that declaring principles as somehow outside of the dirty, dirty realm of politics accomplishes is to make it less likely that public policy will reflect these values.

Comments (136)

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  1. actor212 says:

    The run-up to the actual decision and its announcement was clumsily handled, to be sure.

    • Steve LaBonne says:

      In this case, though, that even kind of added to the final effect because it gave the bishops and other idiots extra time to work themselves up into a good lather, only to end up looking like Wile E. Coyote after he’s run off the cliff. So it’s all good, in my book.

      • actor212 says:

        Yes, but there are now an awful lot of embarassed lefties, myself included. While the decision itself is less noxious, it doesn’t change the fact that the perception was, and still is, this is bad for women. As Scott points out.

        • I don’t know if there was a way to lure Republicans into thinking that making a lot of noise would work without tricking liberals, too. The fact that people like me were genuinely worried he’d cave made Republicans overconfident. Which made them escalate faster, and then woooop, over the cliff.

          • Honorable Bob says:

            Hey Amanda,

            Have you aplogized to the Duke Lacrosse team yet for all of the lies?

            • DrDick says:

              Have you apologized to your mother for all the shame and grief you have caused her?

            • thebewilderness says:

              Srsly? Bob. You really want to play plank and speck, Bob? You really want to go with the no conviction equals false rape charges routine? Or is this the prostitutes and wives can’t be raped idiocy?

              • Honorable Bob says:

                “Can’t a few white boys sexually assault a black woman anymore without people getting all wound up about it?

                She lies and then scrubs her statements from the website when called out.

                As for the young men that she maligned…

                NC Attorney general took the extraordinary step of stating his belief that the young men were innocent.

                Seriously, the only difference between her racism and David Duke’s is who they hate and lie about.

                • Blue Jean says:

                  She lies and then scrubs her statements from the website when called out.

                  OMG! And they still let her walk the streets???!!

                  There. You have the display of outrage (albeit feigned) that you wanted. Now, let’s focus on the actual topic, please.

      • DrDick says:

        I would agree on this. I was rather pleasantly surprised by this development.

      • pool says:

        Didn’t the bishops get, at least what they said, they wanted?

        • Warren Terra says:

          Well, they’re still being forced to provide health insurance that includes free contraceptives, so, no. The fight was never about their being forced to pay for contraception, as there seems to be a consensus that offering contraception coverage saves money on pregnancy care and gynecological difficulties treatable with contraceptives.

          • The fight was ostensibly over whether or not religious organizations that object to contraception use should be forced to pay to cover it, so in that very literal sense the bishops got what they wanted. But in practice, that was never anything more than a smokescreen, and what the bishops really want is to actually block women’s access to contraception. So in point of fact, they lost.

            • Scott Lemieux says:

              As Fred Clark says in a post I link to below, that was the genius of it- he gave them what they claimed to want, not what they actually wanted. Since what they actually want is extraordinarily unpopular, this was very shrewd.

              • They didn’t even actually get what they said they wanted.

                These institutions will still be required to purchase insurance policies which will make contraception available to women at no additional cost. They cannot purchase insurance policies that do not provide contraceptive coverage.

                That’s why they’re still grouchy about it.

            • Bill Murray says:

              well it wasn’t really religious organizations; it was organizations somewhat affiliated with a religion.

              I think was pretty well settled 12 years ago and not in the organizations favor.

              Accepting your opponents framing is like playing on the counter attack, it can sometimes help a weaker team win and can usually keep the score close but you are always ceding territory to your opponents that can be used against you.

              Instead, with the stronger hand (I think having, public opinion, the Constitution and the law on your side counts as the stronger hand), Obama accepted his opponents framing and achieved a lesser, possibly Pyrrhic, victory.

              • djw says:

                You’re letting the metaphor think for you. Getting them to loudly state their actual, highly unpopular position has a great deal of value.

                • Robert Waldmann says:

                  “You’re letting the metaphor think for you.” Yes exactly exactly. This is quite common. Why oh why have I never read that before? Why have I never written that? I doff my metaphorical hat — hell since it’s metaphorical, I doff my mistress and red beanie.

              • How is this a lesser victory in any sense? The ultimate goal of guaranteeing access to free contraception through employer provided insurance was reached in full, and Obama maneuvered the bishops into a position where there only two choices are to accept a compromise they’re going to hate or to explicitly take a very unpopular anti-contraception in general stance.

                I’m genuinely flummoxed as to what it is anyone is bitching about.

                • DocAmazing says:

                  There’s a good argument that playing the bishops’ game gives the bishops more credibility than they deserve. Pierce runs it down pretty well; good de-flummoxing material.

                • djw says:

                  But I don’t see anyone denying that this gives the bishops more credibility than they deserve. Of course it does.

                  The point was never that the Bishops deserved X, so we should give it to them. The point was that calling their bluff is good politics. The issue of desert never enters the equation, nor should it.

                • How is this a lesser victory in any sense? The ultimate goal of guaranteeing access to free contraception through employer provided insurance

                  You’re assuming that the ultimate goal of people like Bill Murray is guaranteeing access to free contraception.

                  As opposed to smiting his enemies for all the world to see.

                • ema says:

                  According to Obama, before the passage of the law, a) 28 states already mandated coverage of contraception, b) churches ["religious institutions"] were already exempt but hospitals ["affiliated institutions"] were not, and c) 8 states did not have the religious exemption at all.

                  Once the law was passed, a) contraception is preventive care, and preventive care coverage is mandated in all states, b) religious exemption for churches but not hospitals remains in place, and c) the religious exemption is extended to the 8 states that didn’t have it.

                  With the new rule, a) contraceptive care is subject to religious objections and is decouple from preventive care, and contraception coverage is still mandatory in all states but is now relegated to a fuzzy, yet-to-be-determined-if-it-works-and-how-vulnerable-it-is “other” system, b) religious exemption extended to hospitals, charities, and c) no change.

                • ema says:

                  Ugh, “decoupled”, and I forgot to include the link to the President’s remarks.

              • well it wasn’t really religious organizations; it was organizations somewhat affiliated with a religion.

                By this logic, a K-street think tank whose board is appointed by the RNC isn’t really a Republican organization, just an organization somewhat affiliated with Republicans.

                • John says:

                  That is a bad analogy. The point was that a Catholic hospital isn’t a religious institution in the same way that a Catholic church is. Its primary purpose is not to advance the Catholic religion, but to heal the sick. Your analogy doesn’t really address that distinction.

                • 1. Healing the sick is a core element of the Catholic religion.

                  2. The primary purpose of Saint Mary’s School for Girls is not to advance the Catholic religion, but to teach students. Nonetheless, it remains a Catholic schools, not just a school somewhat affiliated with a religion.

                • Lyanna says:

                  You don’t get to say that your organization is “religious”, and therefore entitled to special treatment, because you’re claiming a secular purpose (healing the sick) as part of your religion.

                  Allowing you to do that would make a mockery of the First Amendment. Anything can be part of your religion; anything can be a “religious institution” if the people in charge declare it to be so.

                  There is a well-established legal distinction between an organization with a secular purpose (school, hospital) and a religious organization (church), which allows the latter but not the former to get special treatment/exemptions.

                  Basically, religious people and organizations don’t and shouldn’t get to ignore all secular laws because they are “religious.” We might give them narrow, limited exemptions in some cases, but the key words are “narrow” and “limited.” And one of the limitations is based on the type of organization involved.

        • Red Jenny says:

          Yes, and they’re going to be furious!

    • I also don’t understand the argument that “that women’s-health issues have been treated as little more than a bargaining chip by a Democratic president. Again.”

      Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta sing.

  2. Davis X. Machina says:

    It’s Pierce. Obama is his King Charles’ head..

  3. Anderson says:

    Hell, at this point in the term, “not a cave” is a brilliant win for Obama.

    • OK, let’s go through the history here, because it appears that more than one person has forgotten what we’re talking about.

      Obama passed his health care bill, including the long-sought-for requirement that contraceptive coverage be included as part of the package of benefits provided by health insurers. This has been a top-tier priority for both women’s groups and health reform groups for decades.

      That is a massive victory, and to write it out of your analysis says quite a bit, but not about the issue or the Obama administration’s performance on it.

  4. wengler says:

    Republicans, circa 1960: ‘He’s going to be following orders from the pope!’

    Republicans, circa 2012: ‘He’s not following orders from the pope!’

  5. sleepyirv says:

    There’s wars going on- criticizing the President over a knife fight he won is a bit too much. We’re going to forget this little theater piece by the end of the month because we got a nice pat solution. Women get their coverage, Obama doesn’t get the bull’s horns, and the Catholic bishops get to pretend their stance on birth control is relevant and moral. Win-win-win!

    Maybe this is a Gore Vidal sorta thing, “It is not enough to succeed. Others must fail.” Pierce wanted the bishops hung from the lampposts. In which case A) that wasn’t going to happen B) It would have been really bad for Obama’s reelection campaign if it did.

    • dangermouse says:

      I’ve got a lot of time scheduled hating Obama for the robosigning sellout I’m glad I don’t have to work in any time hating him for this.

      • jeer9 says:

        Only at LG&M will you find stirring analysis of the political benefits to be gained from Obama’s deft maneuvers in unmasking the misogynistic views of a group of mitred clowns better known as Pedophiles “R” US. I suspect the banksters will be a much more powerful ally in the future for our chess-playing executive than any Catholic health organizations; but then I guess when one’s main mission in commentary is defending a scoundrel one tends to exaggerate the small triumphs, as few as they are, in the fertile hope that others don’t notice the bestial seed just deposited in Wall Street’s womb. At least, it won’t look like Romney.

  6. charles pierce says:

    Weren’t they already fighting on inhospitable terrain? Weren’t they already marginalized in their position, which has been ignored by Catholics since at least 1965, and weren’t the Republicans already on the wrong side of the issue? If the benefits promised now are exactly the same as the benefits that existed then, why’d the WH move at all? OK, maybe all of those political advantages are sharpened now, but I don’t see what was substantively gained today that wasn’t there to begin with.

    • Richard says:

      Because he got the support of Catholic Democrats and the Catholic hierarchy, significant groups, without any change at all in the benefits being offered to women. Since all of the pro-choice womens groups are supporting the “compromise” – NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Emily’s List – it hardly behooves an aging white male to claim that the compromise betrays the interests of women (unless the argument is that those women somehow don’t know how to evaluate what is in their best interest).

      • charles pierce says:

        Come on, guys. Nobody knew who the CHS was until this morning. As a pressure group, their influence is negligable at best. I will be most happy to be proven wrong as time goes by. I don’t think we know yet how this will play, and I still think the insurance companies will cheat on this.

        • I’d wager CHS has more clout than the USCCB, but be that as it may I don’t see how that changes the fact that this is a purely symbolic compromise that comes at no substantive cost to the administration’s goal whatsoever and carries the endorsement of leading reproductive rights advocates.

          As for insurance companies “cheating,” I don’t really know what you’re referring to. That they won’t actually comply with the rule and won’t cover contraception?

          • charles pierce says:

            They will find a way not to do it for free.

            • Well of course they will. As Ezra points out, they’ll most likely offset the cost by raising premiums on employer plans that choose not to offer contraception. To which the obvious response is, “so what?”

            • Richard says:

              How about the pont I made above, Charles. NARAL, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List strongly support this. Are they just stooges for Obama or are they too stupid to know that they’ve been sold out?

            • The reason insurance companies don’t already do this is because it’s an arms race situation. Because customers switch insurance all the time, the fear is the long term gains will be held by someone else. But if they all disarm at once—by having birth control offered for free—everyone saves money.

              • Honorable Bob says:

                I would gladly pay your birth control costs.

                • avoidswork says:

                  Why do you grow a pair, DisHonorable Bob and go post on Pandagon if you want to discuss anything with Amanda?

                  Pathetically, you are engaging her HERE about an unrelated topic that is years old.

                • DrDick says:

                  Why do you grow a pair, DisHonorable Bob

                  The somebody has already permanently taken care of all of Dishonorable Boob’s birth control issues.

        • John says:

          Surely the importance of the CHS is that it is the organization representing the interests of Catholic hospitals? What does it matter whether you or I had heard of them before this morning? We’ve all heard of “Catholic hospitals”, right?

          • Warren Terra says:

            I disagree with Charlie on this “compromise”, but he’s right about the CHS. I’m sure they’re hella important and all in the real world, but in terms of public prominence they’re someplace between that nutcase Donohoue and my (nonexistent) pet cat. I’ve never heard of them before, and I’m willing to be (a laughable sum) that you haven’t either.

            Mind you, given that they’re seemingly saner than their outspoken bishops I’d not mind hearing more from them in future, so long as it’s at the expense of hearing the views of the bishops et al.

            • You want to bet people have never heard of Catholic Hospitals?

              • Warren Terra says:

                No, no, they’ve heard of Catholic Hospitals, but not of this group that possibly represents their interests.

                • John says:

                  But who’s disputing this? The point is that Obama has split the Catholic hospitals from the bishops. There’s no longer a united Catholic front against him, which defuses any political danger. It doesn’t matter whether people have heard of the CHS

            • Hogan says:

              The bishops’ leverage is their claim to speak for all Catholics; that’s why they matter in this discussion. Whatever reservations the bishops have about this deal don’t matter now, because a serious Catholic group involved in health care has accepted it, and the bishops can’t undo that. They’re off the board for now.

    • Well they gained CHS’ support for the rule. That’s not a substantive gain per se, but it’s certainly a nice political gain. And at the end of the day you’re left with a “compromise” that doesn’t impede the actual ability of women to get contraceptive coverage at all, that’s endorsed by the major reproductive rights advocacy groups, and that the Bishops are going to hate. Sounds like a good day to me.

  7. Jesse Ewiak says:

    As a side note, anybody who doesn’t think this was win, go read the Corner. They’re going batshit over there.

    • ocularity says:

      I think I’ll just take your word for it, if its all the same to you…

    • sleepyirv says:

      To be fair, they go batshit if Obama brushes his teeth or sings a Al Green song or whatever.

    • djw says:

      A lot of good stuff over there, but McCarthy’s “fraud” post is very, very special.

    • mark f says:

      I’m disappointed there’s no Goldberg post, so we can’t watch him struggle out loud to figure out if he’s supposed to be happy or not.

      Oh well, going over to NRO let me see that Mark Steyn thinks Romney is a weakling for merely wanting to kill Jihadists as opposed to all Muslims, so mango-chasing wasn’t totally without charm.

    • avoidswork says:

      Love it when the odious Ponnuru and K-Lo get to be b*tt hurt. Any time. Every time. Also adored Daniel Foster’s headline of “Money for Nothing, Chicks for Free”.

      So, ladies who work for such religious institutions (at play in the HHS mandate) – you get to be sluts** AND have your BC paid for!!

      Put that in your pipe and smoke it. ;)

      **what Repub/Con men really think of women with sexual freedom

  8. Saurs says:

    I also don’t understand the argument that “that women’s-health issues have been treated as little more than a bargaining chip by a Democratic president. Again.” Women’s health issues were not just “treated as a bargaining chip”: the policy announced today, in fact, maintains very real gains for women’s health and equity.

    Oh, I don’t know. The largely trumped-up controversy, the breathless anticipation of an announcement, the bit of crumbs that we’re actually afforded, the sweat we’re supposed to be toweling off our brows now that we’ve “won” this small and rather pitiful “victory,” the suggestion that we’re supposed to be grateful for the crumbs. Sounds like business as usual under Obama: the Woman Issue and the women that are treated as a special niche group, just another pawn for the government and shadowy boys to fight over (mostly play-acting all the while) to score a few points in another election year.

    • Anderson says:

      the bit of crumbs that we’re actually afforded,

      “Crumbs” = women get their birth control.

      That’s not enough for you? Then whose interests were you hoping to see advanced? Not women’s, apparently? Someone more important?

      • Richard says:

        Pierce and Saurs seem to feel that its more important that the left feel vindicated than that women’s rights are advanced. Women got exactly what the President’s policy always was – a guaranty of insurance coverage for contraception. Thats not crumbs.

        • Bill Murray says:

          how is getting everything that was already guaranteed anything extra at all?

          • Richard says:

            because the president got everything he wanted, defused the political controversy, gained the support of catholic democrats and the catholic hospital group and the only thing he gave up was a political fight with Catholics that could have hurt him and most certainly could not have helped him. How you don’t see that is totally beyond me

            • Red Jenny says:

              Because these days the way one proves one’s progressive bona fides is to criticize everything the president does as no different from George W. Bush. Ironic considering the effort these people put into electing Bush in 2000 because Al Gore wasn’t Paul Wellstone. If they even accepted Paul as liberal enough.

            • DocAmazing says:

              Because the president told the American public “these religious cretins are worth dealing with”.

              The more deference shown to religious nutcases, the stronger they get. Time to tell them to go away in stronger terms. The chess move was fine; next time, try another game, like dodgeball.

              • Well, at least we’re being honest now and admitting that actual policy gains are less important than making you feel all warm inside thinking that the right people have gotten a stern talking to. I think I’ll stick with Planned Parenthood.

                Although I’d also point out that your plan would deny Democrats the opportunity to goad anti-choicers into coming out as explicitly anti-contraception, which itself would be a rather substantial victory for the pro-choice community.

              • Red Jenny says:

                Because the president told the American public “these religious cretins are worth dealing with”.

                As opposed to telling the American public that the Catholic Church was irrelevant and to pay it no never mind.

          • how is getting everything that was already guaranteed anything extra at all?

            Because now the gains – the massive gains achieved for women under the Affordable Care Act, which you can get around to acknowledging any time now – have been consolidated. The challenge to those gains has been turned back, and they are now secure.

    • The HHS Secretary is a woman. Just sayin’.

    • Some people are never happy. Jesus. Free birth control is not “crumbs”. He basically just created a massive entitlement that will invariably shift the way our culture views contraception. That’s massive. If, in 15 years we’re encroaching on Western European levels of acceptance and putting condom dispensers in high schools, etc., we can trace it back to this decision.

      • mark f says:

        Yes, but isn’t it more important that the White House used the word “accomodation”? Who cares about real policy gains when Jay Carney didn’t even actually force Bill Donohue and Kathryn Jean Lopez to have protected, non-marital sex?

      • Honorable Bob says:

        So how much does BC cost? It’s been around forever and there’s generics available.

        And the BIGGER question is why no copay?

        If I need a life-saving drug, I pay a copay.

        BC….not so much.

        • Warren Terra says:

          Remember, Bob, Google Is Your Friend (and I’m guessing a guy like you needs friends). Birth control is hundreds of dollars a year, which isn’t easy for a lot of people.

          One obvious reason for no copay is that people using birth control are saving their insurer money. Another is that we want to encourage people to feel free to control their fertility, not to penalize them for doing so. You’d think the Conservatives, so deathly afraid of uneducated poor single mothers, would understand this.

          • Honorable Bob says:

            Is birth control more important than life-saving drugs?

            Seriously, this shows that this is about the politics and not much else.

            The sixties hangover is still with us.

            • MAJeff says:

              This is about there being no co=pays on preventative medicines. Stop being a dishonest fuckwitted culture warrior.

              • DrDick says:

                I am afraid that is all he knows how to do or is capable of.

                • MAJeff says:

                  I know. The whole “60s hangover” bullshit is jut in the mind of war-mongering, white supremacist, heterosexist misogynists, like Bob, trying to turn back the clock to the days when the folks they hate were lesser citizens, and lesser humans.

              • Malaclypse says:

                Besides, it is not like birth control, or the lack thereof, will ever change Boob’s life in the slightest.

              • gmack says:

                Actually, I think we should endorse Bob’s point wholeheartedly: birth control is not really more important than “life saving” drugs; thus I hope we can put aside our partisan differences and our culture wars to call for a national health care system where all drugs are are provided without co-pays.

                • Scott Lemieux says:

                  Yup. Level up!

                • Honorable Bob says:

                  Why not free food…..and housing? Aren’t they as or even MORE important than healthcare?

                  And FREE education. Scott expects to get paid, but he should provide his teaching for FREE.

                  And FREE movies and entertainment. After all, it’s important to be rested and refreshed.

                  It should ALL be FREE….FREE, I tell you….FREE…FREE…FREE

                  Except….that ain’t the way it works, is it? It’s not really free. We just want someone else to pay the freight for us.

                • Boob missed the part where covering contraception saves the insurer money then? Not surprised.

      • Bill Murray says:

        to ask the same question I just did, this was already the way, how is the “compromise” better?

        Further, it seems likely to me that in implementation fewer women will have contraceptive coverage than with the original rule

        • djw says:

          the ‘compromise’ is not noticeably better (or, I think worse) from a policy perspective. The additional benefits are political. You are free to disagree with this assessment, but the theory behind this isn’t particularly difficult to grasp, and is explained in the post and several times in comments.

        • Further, it seems likely to me that in implementation fewer women will have contraceptive coverage than with the original rule

          Fortunately, it doesn’t seem that way to anyone, like Planned Parenthood, who actually understands the issue and the policy.

          • Anonymous says:

            Well I guess it’s possible that there is a number of women X where X is greater than zero who will answer “no” when the insurance company asks them if they’d like to add the contraception rider to their policy, but that seems like a wholly immaterial difference to me.

            • DrDick says:

              However, in that case, it is entirely their personal decision, exactly as it should always be.

              • Exactly (the above was me, btw). It also seems that a woman who opted not to get coverage for contracepion would also be highly unlikely to use contraception even if she was covered so, again, the practical impact here is negligible at best.

                • DrDick says:

                  Making it available to those who want it in no way infringes on the religious freedom of those who think it is immoral, since they are not required to use it themselves.

      • quibble says:

        you should have lead with this back in August 2011

    • Hob says:

      “The largely trumped-up controversy, the breathless anticipation of an announcement, the bit of crumbs that we’re actually afforded, the sweat we’re supposed to be toweling off our brows now that we’ve ‘won’ this small and rather pitiful ‘victory,’ the suggestion that we’re supposed to be grateful for the crumbs.”

      It must be really unpleasant to have to receive all these telepathic messages from the President, which don’t resemble anything he has said or written on this matter.

    • Sounds like business as usual under Obama

      He produces a massive win on an issue of longstanding concern to the left – making contraceptive coverage available for free as a universal entitlement under the health care coverage – and some online critics bitch and moan because they didn’t get enough of a woodie from the symbolic politics, while completely ignoring the substantive policy gains?

      Yep, it sounds like business as usual under Obama.

  9. Ruby says:

    One of issues brought up by less-than-happy feminists, that I haven’t seen addressed is privacy.

    Under the new plan, women can no-longer just make BC claims to their company insurance, they need to get special, BC-only coverage too.

    Will their employers be aware that they’ve added this coverage, thus revealing that they use it (aside from the HIPPA violation at play, this is a real issues under the original Hawaii plan that has lead to a lot of harassment of women whose contraception use was revealed this way).

    This goes triple for Trasmen that need BC coverage.

    • If the employer is cutting themselves out of the BC matter, I don’t see why they’d be informed if an employee added BC coverage at no cost to them.

      • Ed says:

        I don’t see why, either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Ruby’s question is a good one, and if there are such consequences, Obama’s concession won’t look so good even if it does work for him politically by making the media forget about it.

        The HHS Secretary is a woman. Just sayin’.

        Wow. Thank you, Obama!

        In fact the relative dearth of women in influential roles in Obama’s circle was a topic even before he was elected. Made it into the news.

        • “I don’t see why, either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.”

          Well if there’s no reason for it to happen, then medical privacy laws would presumably apply to the situation so that if people were improperly informed of private information the aggrieved party would have redress.

          “The HHS Secretary is a woman. Just sayin’.

          Wow. Thank you, Obama!”

          That was in response to this, specifically:

          “the Woman Issue and the women that are treated as a special niche group, just another pawn for the government and shadowy boys to fight over”

          • Ed says:

            That was in response to this, specifically:

            “the Woman Issue and the women that are treated as a special niche group, just another pawn for the government and shadowy boys to fight over”

            I understand that. It doesn’t do anything to alter the fact that there’s a fair amount of truth in the quoted statement, and fights like this merely demonstrate that it’s still a man’s world and the other half of the human race is still a special interest whose rights can be used as bargaining chips. Pierce is certainly correct to that extent.

            • A) I think you’re being way too generous in giving him the benefit of the doubt in claiming that this was a bunch of men deciding women’s issues when, in fact, the Secretary of the relevant cabinet department is actually a woman. That’s a bit too much into “other than that, Mrs. Lincoln,” territory IMO.

              B) Whatis this nonsense about a “bargaining” chip? Nothing was bargained away. Under the rule, free contraception coverage will be available to every woman with insurance through their employer. Period. The only change is a purely symbolic one whereby religious employers can opt to pay for the coverage of contraceptive services indirectly rather than directly.

      • Bill Murray says:

        so the employer won’t know which plan an employee is covered under?

        • Since the employee would be getting the rider directly from the insurance company without direct payment by the employer, why would the employer need to know whether or not they had contraception coverage?

          • T. Paine says:

            Yeah, doesn’t this actually address the information problem (as a secondary effect)? If birth control is now available to ALL women, and the employer has no role in providing it, then there’s no way to know who is taking advantage of the free coverage and who is not. (Please correct me if I’m wrong – wait, this is the Internet, of course someone will.)

            • Warren Terra says:

              It’s not like your insurer wasn’t already privy to your medical information, and especially aware of what drugs it was paying for. The additional hoops to get birth control are unfortunate, if those hoops actually require additional efforts (I’m unclear), but your insurer would always have known if you were using prescription contraceptives.

  10. Manju says:

    Suddenly, I feel an urge to watch some old Road Runner cartoons.

  11. Lee Hartmann says:

    Apart from the merits of what Obama did, if I may speak to Mr. Pierce’s defense (not that he needs me, and we still have a LeBron thing in our way) let me just suspect that comes from someone who is completely and justifiably disgusted with the influence of these abetters of pedophilia and abuse, from a position actually favorable to the idea of the Catholic Church. I remember driving in to Cambridge from Acton and seeing every day on my way into work a sign saying “Jail Cardinal Law”. which should have happened. Given the brilliance of his writing, and the awfulness which happened in our time, I think he deserves some understanding, if not agreement.

    Also too: I think the Bishops have been a malign influence on our politics for a log time and Mr. Pierce is well-positioned to make this point.

    • moot says:

      The USCCB is bad on embryonic stem cells and euthanasia. It is horrible on reproductive freedom and gay equality. The organization’s stances on immigrants, the environment, economic justice and a host of other issues are excellent.

      Unfortunately, the USCCB has chosen to use its political capital almost solely on the former rather than the latter.

    • Richard says:

      Great. Obama should have continued a fight with the catholic church because he dislikes their history of pedophilia since that is sure to lead to good political results. I like pierce’s writings most of the time but he’s dead wrong here, has taken a position which almost every pro choice women’s group has disagreed with and simply can’t be rationalized He needs to be called out here (which of course doesn’t undermine the fact that he’s generally an admirable writer and thinker)

    • The Catholic Bishops are bad does not actually count as evidence or logic in support of Pierce’s claims about this issue.

  12. Alan in SF says:

    The anti-choice strategy has been to chip away at reproductive rights in every way it can, even when the chip is tiny and seemingly inconsequential. Score another one for their side.

    • First you’d have to show us a chip.

      • Damnitt you worthless O-Bot, don’t you know that dying on every molehill is the true path to victory and prosperity?!?!

      • ema says:

        Two chips:

        1) Contraceptive coverage, unlike “regular” preventive care coverage, is subject to, and governed by, religious objections.

        2) The religious exemption has been extended from only religious institutions (churches) to hospitals, charities, etc.

        • And this ultimately means only that such religious organizations can opt to pay for the indirectly rather than directly. What a disaster!

          • Honorable Bob says:

            The reality is BC has been around forever and is very inexpensive.

            For the poor who you believe cannot afford it, let’s all remember that Medicaid, the medical insurance for the poor, already covers BC.

            The issue is really not access. Everyone has access at a reasonable cost.
            The issue is purly political.

    • Scott Lemieux says:

      If the anti-choice side wants to contain itself entirely to “scoring” by losing 100% on the substance and getting “chips” that consolidate pro-choice victories, I would be very happy.

  13. [...] Scott Lemieux demurs, arguing that Actually, He Stepped Aside and Let the Bishops Jump Into the Empty Pool. [...]

  14. [...] Scott Lemieux demurs, arguing that Actually, He Stepped Aside and Let the Bishops Jump Into the Empty Pool. [...]

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