Wearing them down: are the Democrats ready to fight ugly trench warfare over women's issues?

Wearing them down

by digby

Politico reports that the GOP is ready to keep going on this "conscience" exception fight:
Congressional Republicans on Monday vowed to keep fighting President Barack Obama’s contraceptive coverage policy, hoping to win the argument that the rule tramples on religious freedom and that their opposition has nothing to do with contraceptives. “Nobody is taking away women’s health care benefits,” Sen. Ron Johnson said. “Any woman in America can get free contraceptives if they can’t afford to pay for them through county health services, through a variety of places. This is about an assault on freedom.” Sen. Roy Blunt said he’s trying to figure out his next move, hoping to find a vehicle for his bill allowing any employer to opt out of the requirement on religious grounds...
There is at least one Democratic opponent that hasn’t been swayed by the new “accommodation” for religious employers. Sen. Ben Nelson of Nebraska is the lone Democrat co-sponsoring Blunt’s bill. “It doesn’t take care of an individual business owner,” Nelson said of the administration’s policy. “And I think they are entitled to the protection of the conscience clause as well.”
Well, that cancels out Snowe. At least we still have Collins.

We'll have to see if Blunt can get this done:

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) told TPM Tuesday that he wants to attach his contraception amendment to a bill that President Obama has to sign -- which is probably the only way Republicans can get it passed.

"I'd like to get it on a bill the President has to sign," Blunt told TPM. "But I'd also like to see it debated and voted on, and so we'll just see how that goes."

For all the talk about this being a big winner for the Democrats I honestly have a hard time seeing them be willing to spend much more time on it if the Republicans decide to really push it. I could be wrong, but I'm already seeing some allies rolling their eyes and saying "enough already with the birth control, we have important issues to hash out." I hope I'm wrong --- or that the Republicans decide to drop back on this for the time being in light of these polls showing that a large majority support the contraception mandate.

Keep in mind that this is hardly the first time the Republicans have pushed this gambit. Recall that while this conscience clause nonsense has been around for quite a while they've been ramping it up along with the "religious liberty" argument in the last couple of years.

Remember that heinous attempt to redefine the rape exceptions in the Hyde Amendment to mean only "forcible" rape?
The right has now found a vein of attack that they can mine over and over. They can use funding issues and the tax code to launch one after another. If this one doesn't work, they can find another. It is a very rich vein....a veritable Silver City lode of potential attacks.

As David Waldman writes, "H.R. 3 hides even bigger dangers than redefinition of rape."
" Take the rape provisions out, and you're left with a bill that paves the way for using the tax code to select every American's health care options for them, direct from Washington."
So what is hiding in plain sight? The remedies sections of both bills are a veritable cornucopia of ways to control women's access to all reproductive rights - from abortion to birth control. Ironically, the right's anathema to lawsuits stops when they can use them to have a veto over everyone else's rights.

Both bills have sections entitled Non-Discrimination and Remedies. Doerflinger and Johnson kept coming back to what they euphemistically call "conscience provisions" in their testimonies. They were very wedded to them. WHY? Because without them, they could not get what they wanted: the most draconian, onerous and sweeping anti-choice legislation in forty years.
Check out how many abortion bills have been brought before congress in the past year. 80% of them are restrictions. "Conscience" and "religious freedom" appear frequently in the language.

So, this is a strategy, not a reaction to a specific proposal. The Bishops are doubling down. I don't know if it will pay off. We'll see if the Democrats decide that this worth fighting if the GOP decides it's worth pushing. But it isn't going away.