One of the inherent rights of American citizenship is individual freedom and it transcends nearly every benefit those fortunate enough to live in a free society enjoy. Republicans in states and Washington believe so strongly in individual freedoms, that they support eliminating the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate requiring all Americans to carry healthcare insurance and have taken the mandate question before the Supreme Court to settle the issue. Republicans detest mandates of any kind as government intrusion into American’s personal lives nearly as much as they claim to hate big government. However, as the Senate prepares to vote on whether or not an employer can opt out of offering contraception coverage if it violates their religious beliefs, a Republican victory will be tantamount to government imposing a religious mandate that violates women’s individual liberty.
Since the start of the 112th Congress, Republicans have assailed women’s individual liberties with relentless disregard that has as its basis religious dogma of the Catholic Church and evangelical extremists. The Senate bill introduced by Missouri senator Roy Blunt gives any employer the right to deny contraception coverage (among others) in health plans whether they are affiliated with religious organizations or not, and serves as a mandate that eliminates a woman’s choice of how many children they give birth to. President Obama summed up the effect of the proposed law back in 2005 when he said, “A woman’s ability to decide how many children to have and when, without interference from the government, is one of the most fundamental rights we possess. It is not just an issue of choice, but equality and opportunity for all women.” The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and extremist evangelical Christians disagree with the President’s sentiments and directed Republicans to impose their religious mandate on women in America; especially poor and low-income women.
The Republican’s forced-birth agenda is not the only government-enforced religious mandate on women. In many Republican-controlled states, religious extremists are forcing government mandates on women in the form of state-sponsored rape (transvaginal ultrasound) laws. In Virginia recently, Republican governor Bob McDonnell backed off signing a state-rape law after intense pressure, but seven other states such as Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas already mandate rape-ultrasounds and Pennsylvania is in the process of passing a law mandating transvaginal ultrasounds.
The Republicans have become so ferocious in the assault on women’s right to choose their own reproductive health that, in Oklahoma, they are proposing a mandate that forces women to listen to a Doppler fetal heart rate monitor if a woman is at least eight weeks into a pregnancy. The problem is that at eight weeks, a fetal heartbeat is inaudible with Doppler and the general guidelines suggest waiting until 13 weeks to be certain one is apparent. It is another flagrant example of why Republicans should not be permitted to mandate medical care. It is egregious that any woman should undergo medically unnecessary ultrasounds whether it is with Doppler or vicious state-mandated rape ultrasounds.
The enforcement and mandate of religious-based discrimination against women is hypocritical of Republicans who claim to hate government mandates unless they target women; especially poor and low-income women who are hard-pressed to afford food and shelter much less a new child every year. Make no mistake, although the Republican religious mandates target low-income women, Blunt’s senate amendment targets all women by allowing employers to opt-out of covering a multitude of procedures and treatments in the Affordable Health Act besides contraception coverage and if, for example, a male employer objects to providing HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests, maternity coverage, or new baby coverage, they can simply opt-out claiming moral conscience objections. In the case of women’s healthcare, moral conscience objections is code for misogyny.
Republicans claim to hate government mandates unless they target women and particularly women’s health. The drive to eliminate contraception coverage, and ultimately contraception itself, is nothing more than Republicans imposing religion on women. Rick Santorum recently said he is not attempting to impose his religious beliefs on the country, but his campaign against contraception and coverage in healthcare insurance belies his fallacious claim. Supporting a mandate to restrict access to free or affordable birth control is imposing his religion on poor and low-income women; for now. Santorum, like the USCCB, opposes contraception and promises to tour the country preaching about the dangers of birth control his religion opposes, and he supports the mandate allowing religious extremists to deny contraception coverage for their employees.
It is no coincidence that the hypocrites in Republican-controlled states suing the federal government to eliminate the individual mandate to carry health insurance all have forced-birth and rape-sonogram mandates against women. Roy Blunt’s Senate bill is not solely about contraception coverage, but about restricting women from access to crucial health screenings and medical procedures in the ACA. Republicans mandating medically unnecessary Doppler and transvaginal ultrasounds are not only guilty of state-sponsored rape, they are forcing violated women to bear the expense because health insurance does not cover unnecessary medical procedures and tests.
These outrageous misogynistic mandates by Republicans enforcing religious edicts against women are inflaming men and women alike. In the short term, the Republican mandates are aimed at poor and low income women, but if employers are allowed to withhold contraception coverage in their health plans, then all women will suffer and that is the Republican goal. Like the lunatic Quiverfull movement, the Catholic bishops, extremist Christians, and misogynists in the Republican ranks are mandating that all women stay home, clean men’s chamber pots, and give birth until they die. Republicans and their masters in the USCCB and extremist Christians do not hate mandates, they hate women.