(Obama for America)
The furor over President Obama’s birth control mandate has swiftly entered a new plane, with supporters and opponents alike calling the subject a potent weapon for the November elections and mounting what they say will be prolonged campaigns to shape public perceptions of the issue: Is it about religious liberty or women’s health?Considering the furor was limited to the Catholic bishops, their Beltway punditry enablers, and opportunistic Republicans, how potent of an issue this can really be in November for the Right is questionable. This isn't an issue where there are "both sides." There's a tiny group of mostly male extremist fanatics (most of them were at Rep. Darrell Issa's hearing) and then there's the rest of the world.
Between the strong public opinion polling on the president's mandate, and the fact that family planning is an integral part of daily life in America, the Right is up against it. Even if they manage to to get anyone to buy that this is really about religious freedom and not about women's health, they're going to have an awfully hard time convincing people that having their birth control taken away in order to protect religious freedom is a good thing.
But part of this also depends on how women's organizations and Democrats react, and how they approach this fight. The NYT tells us that all the women's organizations are ready to engage the fight, but we've heard this from them before. For the last few decades as they've kept up the good "fight," women's reproductive rights have consistently shrunk. More and more, the fights over these issues have seemed to be more about growing mailing lists and having fundraising drives. That has to change. Now.
Now that the Right has come completely out in the open about their "pro-life" stance being about birth control and controlling women's lives, the Left has a real opportunity to brand the Right on all of women's health as the true extremists they are. But for that to work, our side has to get it and be willing to give up any ideas of working with the other side to find a compromise. There is none. The Right will continue to chip away, compromise by compromise, until birth control is as hard to get as an abortion is. Our political leaders have to recognize that, and women's organizations have to be willing to hold those politicians' feet to the fire.
We should relish and easily win the immediate fight, with an ample assist from crazy Sen. Roy Blunt. But it's not going to be the end. Between this and the Komen kerfuffle, this is the best opportunity we've had in years to start regaining lost ground on women's rights. If we make it happen.