Mainstreaming in minutes
Check out this headline and storyfrom the AP:
Democrats protest religious freedom hearing
Religious leaders told a House panel Thursday the Obama administration was violating basic rights to religious freedom with its policies for requiring that employees of religion-affiliated institutions have access to birth control coverage.
The unity of the religious leaders contrasted with the partisan divide among lawmakers on the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, with Democrats saying they had been denied the ability to present witnesses who might support the government stance or speak for the rights of women to reproductive health coverage. They asked why women weren't better represented among the 10 witnesses at the hearing.
The issue has sparked a political firestorm for the administration, with Catholics and other religious groups strongly protesting an original Health and Human Services ruling that religion-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities must include free birth control coverage in their employee health plans.
I mention this in the context of David's post below in which he discusses the GOP's long term strategy. If this story is any indication, at least a few members of the mainstream press are buying it. Think about it: something that until approximately five minutes ago was so commonplace and unremarkable to the American mainstream that we couldn't conceive of any national politician attacking it, is now "controversial." This has moved very, very quickly.
Keep in mind that the pharmacists who evoked the conscience clauses were all objecting to emergency contraception --- Plan B. They weren't talking about refusing to fill ordinary prescriptions for the birth control pill. That wasn't even discussed outside the darkest corners of the far religious right among the Quiverfull fanatics and fundamentalist Catholics. They have managed in record time to create another issue out of something that most people didn't give a second thought to a year ago.
Now, they won't win this if the Democratic Party stops listening to the Religion Industrial Complex and beats them back hard. But people should stop high fiving and recognize that this is now a battle and get prepared. They aren't going to let it go --- they're all in on this "conscience" strategy.
Update: Debcoop was on to this a year ago. And there's more to it than meets the eye.