Per Ed Kilgore, it appears that the Catholic Bishops will be calling for "disobedience" and outright partisan war during the summer over the birth control mandate. This story ain't going anywhere any time soon.
It's quite clear that even though Romney has escaped Santorum's challenge, he won't escape Santorum's shadow and will be forced to use his rhetoric to defend taking away women's birth control. The Catholic Bishops will be pushing the issue.
But I will note the dangerous rhetorical escalation it represents. It treats the highly indirect impingement (at most) of “conscience rights” by the Obama administration’s contraception coverage mandate as at odds with the fundamental grant of religious liberty made in the First Amendment, and indeed, before the First Amendment, the statements of religious tolerance set out in colonies like Maryland. It embraces the aggressive alliance of conservative evangelicals and traditionalist Catholics formed by Charles Colson and the late Richard John Neuhaus in the 1990s. And it explicitly endorses the recent manifesto by that alliance in the theocon magazine Neuhaus founded, First Things, which conflates physical persecution of Christians in developing countries, the “established secularism” of Europe, and adverse court decisions in the U.S. as part of “the greatest period of persecution in the history of Christianity”(!).Folks really need to read the statement from the Bishops that was included in the article. My guess is, this fight is happening not specifically on birth control, but the Church has been wanting to have this type of fight with the Government (and with public opinion) for a while now and they feel that this case represents the closest issue that they could fight upon.
If the Bishops keep pushing this (and thus, Romney is forced to side with them) this could make the gender gap even wider than it is now in this election. I've never seen anything quite like this before but the partisanship from the Bishops is still rather remarkable.