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John Boehner
Vaginas make John Boehner cry
“I think it’s important for us to win this issue,” Mr. Boehner told reporters just before the Senate killed a Republican measure with a vote of 51 to 48. “The government, our government, for 220 years has respected the religious views of the American people, and for all of this time there’s been an exception for those churches and other groups to protect the religious beliefs that they believe in, and that’s being violated here.” [...]

“I’ve been trying to take this out of the political realm and get it into a position where we can continue to protect the American people’s right to their own religious views,” he said. “And there are a lot of ways to do that. There’s one in the Senate. We have a couple in the House. It’s matter of how we proceed.” [...]

“The government is moving in a direction that would force some Americans to violate their religious beliefs,” he said. “This is wrong, and we want to stop it.”

Let's be perfectly clear: Even though the Senate very narrowly defeated the Blunt Amendment allowing employers to deny insurance coverage for health care they find icky morally objectionable, this isn't exactly a victory. It's a warning shot. Because despite polls showing that a majority of Americans like birth control and don't like the Blunt Amendment, House Majority Leader John Boehner and his fellow woman-haters in Congress are promising to continue their war on women.

Women's rights, including their right to basic health care, are in the hands of the small group of men who don't even want to hear from women—like Rep. Darrell Issa and his No Girls Allowed panel on how vaginas make religious men sad. Like Sen. Marco Rubio, who submitted his Blunt-like bill the day after attending church "where an officiant read a letter from the Catholic archdiocese opposing the administration's decision."

While the misnomer Republican War on Women is often invoked, let's not let Democrats off the hook here for their complicity, because Democratic Sens. Bob Casey, Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson joined Republicans in supporting the Blunt Amendment. Democratic Sen. John Kerry, who voted against the amendment, used up his floor speech time before the vote to clutch his precious Catholic Church-issued pearls about how "concerned" he was a few weeks ago that the Obama administration's new health care mandate did not show proper deference to the concerns of Kerry's church. (Funny how easy it is for Kerry to chuck those pearls on other Church edicts, like the Church's opposition to the war in Iraq.) Kerry is typically recognized as one of the "good guys," whose personal opposition to abortion does not usually get in the way of his voting record. But even Kerry has spent the last several weeks invoking the language of the Right, ceding and validating anti-woman, pro-Christian sharia law rhetoric. Yes, the bottom line is that he voted the right way, but when women's health care is so often dismissed as a "special interest" by the supposedly pro-woman party, and used as a political football by the anti-woman party, American women deserve steadfast allies whose consciences are clear and not subject to the petulant demands of their religious leaders.

The lesson from the Blunt Amendment is clear: It isn't enough to successfully, if barely, fend off the attacks of woman-haters. Those who claim to stand for women must not only fight against the attacks, but must fight forcefully and proactively to protect and expand women's rights. The Obama administration did the right thing by adopting the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine that insurance coverage should include preventative health care for women. Democrats who opposed the decision—with their votes or with their rhetoric—need to get their priorities straight. There is no middle ground on equality, and if that makes them uncomfortable, or if they fear it offends their "religious beliefs," they need to get the hell out of our big tent. There's a whole other anti-woman party out there for them. Let's not let them have the Democratic Party too.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Mar 01, 2012 at 11:01 AM PST.

Also republished by Pro Choice and Abortion.

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