Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Commentary on Politics of Contraception Debate

More recent commentary, this batch of articles specifically on the contraception debate:

At Salon, Sarah Posner warns those defending women's rights to basic health care not to celebrate prematurely, after what has happened with both the HHS guidelines and the Komen attempt to attack Planned Parenthood.  Posner argues that the political and religious right are playing a long game with the attack on women's access to basic health care, and that they will continue to strategize to remove or embroil or complicate funding for contraception at the state level across the country.

Most of all, Posner notes that the political and religious right are involved in a long-term disinformation campaign designed to blur the boundaries between abortion and contraception, and to confuse the public about these issues and the role of religious freedom.  She writes, 

The opponents of birth control coverage are playing a long game. As they ransack family planning funding and prop up religious organizations, they are transforming the way information — and misinformation — about abortion and birth control is passed on to the public. Their efforts are enabled by narratives about religious persecution, demanding, in effect, to create a religious alternative to public health policy based in medicine and science. The Constitution doesn’t require or even envision that. Democrats and their pro-choice allies need to stake out their own long game.

Also writing at Salon (and challenging disinformation campaigns), Joan Walsh calls the bluff of "sorta liberal" Melinda Henneberger, who's trying to shop around the astonishing meme that it was the Democrats who created the contraception controversy, and that the Republicans (Santorum, in particular) are not after women's birth control.  Walsh notes that Henneberger has been carrying water for Santorum--and she finds it gobsmacking that anyone would try to pretend that Santorum has not been bitterly and outspokenly opposed to contraception for a long time now.

Walsh writes, 

So honestly, I find it stunning that anyone is arguing that it’s Democrats who are “putting focus” on this issue and then profiting from it, politically or financially.  President Obama followed the advice of the Institute of Medicine and required insurers to include no-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act, because it’s best for women’s health and it also saves money. It was Republicans who politicized the issue, even after the president compromised with Catholic groups and took religious agencies out of the middle of the exchange. House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lined up behind bills to repeal that requirement – Santorum and every GOP presidential candidate support their efforts — even though federal law mandates that insurance plans include all sorts of medical treatment. Democrats didn’t make them single out contraception as a mandated benefit.

But Michael Sean Winters at National Catholic Reporter begs to differ.  In his view, Henneberger has "nailed it" vis-a-vis the Democrats' strategy of making contraception a political issue, and how the Democrats are playing to "women's groups" with this strategy.  (Translation: "women's groups" ≠ "us Catholics" in Michaelspeak.  The women are the problem, who and what have to be kept in line by the USCCB boys' club in which Winters's self-image is entirely invested, and on whose behalf he tirelessly works.)

Winters adds that the "USCCB must tread carefully lest it appear to be over-playing its hand [i.e., in this partisan political battle the Democrats and women's groups have cooked up] and tying its wagon to any particular partisan horse."  And, thankfully, in the thread that follows his posting, one reader after another is giving Winters hell for that atrociously mendacious statement which pretends that the bishops are innocent non-partisan victims of the malicious Democrats and their malicious women.

By contrast, if you want to read a good and honest article at NCR that seeks to address the reality-based Catholic community and dispel disinformation--specifically about the confusion between contraceptives and abortifacients, where Winters has himself assisted the USCCB in spreading disinformation--I recommend Jamie Manson's recent article about what an abortifacient is and isn't.

As I say, if it's reality-based Catholic journalism you're after, as you try to make your way through the conflicting claims about material cooperation with evil, religious liberty, contraception, and whether non-Catholic workers in Catholic institutions sign on to be under papal oversight when they take jobs in Catholic institutions . . . .

No comments: