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Ear to the Ground

GOP Congressman Compares Free Birth Control to 9/11

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Posted on Aug 1, 2012
Republican Conference

Rep. Mike Kelly, R-Pa., speaking last year.

Caution: The following statement by GOP Rep. Mike Kelly is so ridiculous it might make your head spin.

“I know in your mind, you can think of the times America was attacked,” Kelly said at a news conference Wednesday. “One is Dec. 7, that’s Pearl Harbor Day. The other is Sept. 11, and that’s the day the terrorists attacked. I want you to remember Aug. 1, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates. ... Today is the day religious freedom died in America.”

So what was the Pennsylvania Republican talking about? Why, President Obama’s birth control mandate, which went into effect Wednesday. What’s so terrifying to Kelly about the mandate is that women will now be able to get birth control without having to pony up a co-pay.

The horror! Now women are free to gobble up birth control pills like Skittles and become “sluts”! It’s like Rush Limbaugh’s biggest nightmare, right?

Now let’s get back to reality. Here’s what the mandate will actually do.

The Huffington Post:

Wednesday marked the first day private insurers must include birth control coverage without charging a co-pay in their plans, per requirements in the Affordable Care Act. The change will affect most women on private health plans, with some exceptions. More than a dozen Republican members of the House of Representatives, mostly freshmen, held a press conference to blast the law for what they said were violations of religious freedom.

...The conservative lawmakers’ objections focus on the fact that employees and students with religiously affiliated groups will be able to have access to contraception coverage through their health care plans. A compromise offered by the Obama administration requires insurance companies to offer the coverage directly, so that the employers are removed from the transaction.

Still, the members threw one vitriolic jab after another at the mandate, calling it an attack on freedom and an assault on first amendment rights.

Read more

Democrats, of course, rightly pounced on Kelly for his comment.

“For the thousands of Americans who lost their lives on these two horrible days, to the thousands more who put on a uniform to protect this country and ensure that the lives of those lost are not forgotten, to the thousands more who mourned the loss of a loved one or bore witness to those two tragic days in American history, Mike Kelly’s comments are beyond outrageous,” New York Rep. Jerry Nadler, whose congressional district includes Ground Zero, wrote in a statement. “To drag the memories of those lost and those still grieving into the culture wars is unforgivable. And to equate those terrible attacks with the safe and legal availability of contraception for women—ostensibly to score political points—is stunning. The American people deserve an apology.”

“Equating women’s health care and contraception with two of the darkest days in American history is not just wrong—it’s shameful,” said Rep. Carolyn Maloney, also from New York, who knows a thing or two about 9/11, having dealt with the aftermath of the terrorist attacks for the last decade. “Hopefully Rep. Kelly will realize his rhetoric doesn’t match the situation. Safe, accessible contraception is a fundamental part of virtually every woman’s health care at some point in their lives.”

In addition to being utterly insensitive and completely offensive, Kelly’s statement also ignores the millions of women who, in their way, are exercising their freedom—religious or otherwise—by using birth control. After all, doesn’t religious freedom include the right to practice whatever religion you choose (some of which aren’t staunchly against birth control) or even the choice not to practice one at all?

—Posted by Tracy Bloom.

 

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