Good Conscience Clause News
Hey, here's some very welcome good news coming from the administration today. It looks like the Catholic Bishops and the Forced Childbirth zealots are going to be disappointed: birth control must be available at no cost in all health plans. It was a very hard fought battle, but it would appear that the administration felt that keeping Plan B away from younger teenagers was going to have to be enough.
This isn't a huge change for the vast majority of health plans in the country already.28 states already have this requirement, although many of them allow co-pays and deductibles so that's a positive change even for them. This merely extends that concept across the country to all Americans.Evolution not devolution.
Think Progress frames the principle here very well:
This decision honors the conscience of these women over that of the institutions that employ them and ensures that cost will no longer be a barrier to accessing basic and essential preventive health services.
If a woman does not want to use birth control as a matter of conscience, that's her perfect right. But institutions, whether corporations or churches, aren't "persons" and they don't have "consciences." People do. Even women. The church will have to deal with them on an individual basis. If they can't convince their adherents that they should not use birth control that's their failure in their own realm. The state is in the business of guaranteeing liberty and justice, not individual morality.
Good for the President for standing up to the powerful Catholic Bishops on this. They are essentially a political organization affiliated with the Republican Party and have been for many years. There's just no margin in appeasing them --- and a huge advantage to standing up for women, who vote for Democrats far more than men do. It's good policy and good politics.
Update: Irin Carmon has a good piece on this at Salon:
Pro-choicers were worried that they would get their way, particularly when Archbishop Timothy Dolan sounded triumphant about a one-on-one meeting with the president. And they were outraged when the same Department of Health and Human Services on a decision that would make it easier for younger women to access emergency birth control. But it looks like sense and public health — and a little caterwauling — prevailed this time.
(Caterwauling refers to Dana Milbank telling silly female twits to stop worrying and learn to love the forced childbirth zealots.)
Update II: Sarah Posner writes that this isn't over --- they have a legal strategy already in place for turning this back. (Scroll down.) Of course they do.