In the biggest story of the week, the Supreme Court has agreed to review complaints over the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act, which will allow them to decide whether private corporations have the right to deny employees birth control coverage because of the company owners’ “religious or moral” beliefs.
At the center of the battle are two disturbing questions: can an employer make decisions regarding an employee’s health care based on religious beliefs held by the employer but not necessarily the employee, and when does “pregnancy” begin, as those who are suing claim that birth control acts as an abortion and ends a life that they believe begins when sperm meets egg, rather than when that fertilized egg implants and a pregnancy scientifically begins.
Not all religious groups stand behind the vocal minority actively pushing for the exceptions, however. In fact, not even all Catholics are in agreement. “Catholics know all too well the dangers of allowing a small but vocal minority to attempt to impose its religious viewpoint upon all people,” said Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, in a statement. “Our bishops, having failed to convince the majority of us to follow their dictates on reproductive health, sexuality and marriage, have attempted to codify their extremist stances into secular law, and thus, impose their will not only on Catholics, but on all Americans. If they and their allies are successful here, it will undermine the religious liberty of every employee in the country.”
The court is expected to hear the case in March, with a ruling in June.
A number of states have proposed “choose life” license plates, and Wisconsin is following suit. However, a proposal to have “Support Planned Parenthood” plates seems doomed before it’s even heard. Ironically, Wisconsin Gov. Scott “defund Planned Parenthood, close most of the clinics in the state, force an unnecessary ultrasound on every pregnant person” Walker says he doesn’t think the whole “war on women” meme will work against him during his next campaign.
Texas has managed to reopen a clinic after finally getting admitting privileges for their doctors, and a court has blocked Indiana’s new law that would have stopped a Planned Parenthood in Lafayette from offering medication abortion by requiring it to have the same building standards as a surgical abortion clinic. Arizona health regulators are currently writing new rules for their own clinics, which are expected to include requiring a doctor with admitting privileges to be on site, even if it is only a medication abortion being performed. In Michigan, anti-choice activists have gathered enough signatures to get a surcharge for insurance plans covering abortion on the ballot. Meanwhile, anti-choice activists in New Mexico, disappointed in the failure of the 20 week ban in Albuquerque,hope to get parental notification introduced in the legislature this year.
Also on the parental notification front, Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert wants to have a country wide parental consent law, which would not only require a four day waiting period for any teen seeking an abortion, but would allow any parent to go to court to block his or her child from having the abortion. The bill would be unlikely to pass the senate, but the real intention is no doubt to get a vote on record to use for fodder in the 2014 cycle, so opponents can say they are challenging incumbents who “voted against families or parental rights.”
Speaking of no public support for restrictions, less than half of West Virginia voters are supporting new regulations on the state’s two abortion clinics.
Portland, Maine, has instituted a buffer zone to protect patients from loud, shaming protesters. Now the state’s Attorney General is signaling support for the Massachusetts buffer zone case that the Supreme Court will review this January. Abortion opponents are claiming that not being able to come up to the door of a clinic to try to talk women out of abortions violates their “religious freedom.”
News that Plan B may not work on those who weigh more than 165 pounds is putting many into a panic, but the situation may not be as dire as reports make it sound. Still, Rush Limbaugh thinks its a big, fat conspiracy.
The Louisiana woman charged with feticide after using cocaine is out of jail, and the charges against her have been dropped. However, “pro-family” anti-abortion groups are angry that there aren’t more ways to punish women who use drugs when pregnant, with one advocate stating it is “‘irresponsible’ to rule out holding pregnant women accountable for drug use.” It’s just another reminder of why “personhood” laws are so dangerous, as Lynn Paltrow explained on NPR’s “Fresh Air.”
The President awarded feminist icon and women’s rights activist Gloria Steinem with the Medal of Freedom, which of course made conservatives foam at the mouth, claiming it “denigrated” the honor.