Religious Right Remains In Constant Denial Over Contraception Coverage

(The following has been cross-posted from OneWhiteDuck.com. For more insight and comments, visit the original post here.)

Brent Bozell needs to get a clue.

As a conservative media mogul and proprietor of a slew of Right-thumping publications (Newsbusters.org, CNSNews.com), the über-Right Media Research Center President and frequent Fox News contributor/guest Brent Bozell is on yet another tirade of late concerning the Obama Administration’s supposed “war on Christianity” via a health care mandate on contraception.

In a letter to the news-division presidents of ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN, Bozell lambasts the networks’ own supposed ineffectiveness in calling to task Obama’s assault on religious (Christian) “freedoms”:

“The broadcast and cable television networks need to report the current, unprecedented assault against freedom of religion in this country,” he writes, “as well as the millions of Americans who would be left out in the cold by the Obama administration if it does not rescind HHS’s recently issued insurance mandate requiring contraceptive coverage.”


Citing some 7,000 Catholic schools that “educate children of all faiths and backgrounds” throughout the country, Bozell insists that “countless other Catholic-run charities will be forced to close their doors – or forfeit their most fundamental and deeply held religious beliefs if the Obama administration’s new mandate is not rescinded.

“The mandate forces these religious institutions to provide insurance covering sterilizations, abortion-causing drugs and artificial contraceptives, all of which fly in the face of Catholic teaching.”

No, Brent, it does not.

First off, if one were to actually read the official announcement from the Department of Health Human Services rather than base an entire argument on rhetoric and skewed opinion-based “analysis”, it is quite clear exactly what the “mandate” asks.

As it states, beginning on August 1, 2012, insured women will “have access to the full range of the Institute of Medicine’s recommended preventive services, including all FDA -approved forms of contraception. Women will not have to forego these services because of expensive co-pays or deductibles, or because an insurance plan doesn’t include contraceptive services.”

The announcement also adds that while religious organizations that qualify for non-profit exemption will be allowed an additional year to comply with the new law – extending the mandate to August 2013 in order to allow “more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule” – scientific studies have proven inherent health and economic benefits to contraceptive coverage that go beyond contraception itself:

“Scientists have abundant evidence that birth control has significant health benefits for women and their families, is documented to significantly reduce health costs, and is the most commonly taken drug in America by young and middle-aged women. This rule will provide women with greater access to contraception by requiring coverage and by prohibiting cost sharing.” (emphasis mine)

For thinking America, it’s a no-brainer. Health services that are vastly beneficial for citizens – particularly women – while advancing public health options for many that otherwise might not be able to afford them should be seen as a good thing. No one is “forcing” any citizen – regardless of faith system – to partake in these services; only that insurance providers include said services as part of employee health plans should they be needed/wanted.

Nor are these services akin to “abortion pills” for wanton sex addicts looking for zero-responsibility clauses in their own, self-prescribed social contracts.

In fact, the mandate has less to do with abortion than it does women’s health (often a hot-button topic for Republicans) – and that goes for women of all faiths. The rule is strictly and directly limited to FDA-approved contraception, which does not include abortions (or any form of “abortion-causing drugs”).

Brent Bozel

Social-conservative media mogul Brent Bozell, Founder and President of the Media Research Center

But this – to Bozell – does not matter; his assertion that this law is an assault on Christianity via a non-existent abortion clause that exploits private insurance companies and religious organizations alike is an unchecked effort to trick Right wing America that, once again, boogeyman Obama is out to get them and their fetuses while male politicians’ grip on women’s bodies is reluctantly loosening.

Bozell, concludes his “letter” to the networks with the base-less accusation that the new law is “an unprecedented assault against religion and a devastating blow to the millions of American school children, sick, elderly and poor of all religious faiths that are served by these Catholic institutions.”

“If you refuse,” he writes, “and limit your networks to reporting about the Komen Foundation’s decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood, then you cannot be seen as anything but an anti-Catholic, pro-abortion advocate.”

Ugh. Again, the mandate includes nothing about abortions nor would they be funded under this new law. However, that is apparently not important; instead, Bozell attempts to lump together pro-life fervor with anything pertaining to women’s health under the Obama administration; merits under which his argument would not be able to stand alone.

You see, an overwhelming 98% of self-described Catholic women who are also sexually active have used contraceptive methods banned by the Catholic church, while 67% of American Catholics actually disagree with Bozell’s assertion that contraception is wrong.

In fact, the general consensus among religious Americans is that “insurance companies should be required to cover and pharmacists required to sell birth control pills”; while [t]hree-quarters of Catholics support requiring health insurance plans to cover birth control pills” and nearly 80% “oppose allowing pharmacists to refuse to fill birth control prescriptions.”

So there goes Bozell’s stance of arguing for what he thinks Catholics do or should believe in.

He can’t use the contraception angle, so he switches the debate to abortion by claiming contraceptives to be “abortifacients” – which they clearly and scientifically are not. Even the infamous “morning after pill” is not an abortion-inducer (a conclusion that was dutifully backed up in the January-February 2010 edition of Catholic Health Progress that addressed the ethics of providing emergency contraception to rape survivors in hospital emergency rooms).

If this all seems trivial, that’s because it is; waging conflicts over social normalities has become something of a perfection garnered by Right wing America.

Some of Bozell's groups' handiwork.

And notice how we are referring a lot to Catholicism while ignoring other forms of “religious freedom”. Would Bozell then assert his argument in favor of non-Catholic or even, dare I say, non-Christian belief systems?

Can a Jehovah’s Witness institution deny coverage for blood transfusions? Can a Hindu organization deny insulin, as it is commonly derived from cows? Can a Jewish or Muslim group deny porcine heart valves for hemophiliacs whose antibodies reject human cells? (I cannot take credit for these fantastic examples).

The narrative – as I am sure you can imagine – changes drastically based on context, especially when coming from the same guy who likened Obama to a “skinny, ghetto crack-head”.

Bozell – like many others – chooses when and where to flaunt his Christianity as a political tool; even when – to the discerning eye – it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

As someone who was raised as a Catholic (but having since learned to think for myself), I can recognize specific Christian memes –  like community, peace, charity, love and fidelity – as well as their absence from the country’s Right wing ideology (when suitable, of course) and/or the abhorrence of each from its modern day collective narrative.

These very values are those which many – like Bozell – would argue have no place in American society, while simultaneously claiming a fictional “war” on Christianity that – in direct contrast  from what they would lead us to believe – is waged more from the Right than the Left.

– Joe Ascanio

Based out of Greater New York, Joe Ascanio is a full time web designer, developer and marketing guy working in the online technology marketplace. OneWhiteDuck.com is a semi-personal blog devoted to opinionated rantings over current events, politics and pop culture as they relate to our modern-day society.

Follow Joe on Twitter @onewhiteduck as well as his personal feed @joeascanio.