Following the Obama administration’s declaration of support for helping insurance companies offset the costs of providing birth control to women working at church affiliated institutions, such as hospitals and schools, the Republican Party’s presidential candidates unleashed a propagandistic attack on birth control.
Come August, the Affordable Care Act will require many insurance plans to fully cover contraception. The political frenzy that Republicans have whipped up following this declaration has demonstrated their hostility towards women’s right to access affordable family planning services. Political commentators are speculating over whether these policies will be detrimental to the Republican party´s presidential campaign.
The war on birth control is a virtual political calamity for the Republican Party, which has launched an attempt to garner support from religious conservatives while simultaneously sacrificing the female vote. Birth control should be, and is in many parts of the world, an inexorable human right. By curbing women’s ability to access affordable contraception, Republican candidates are aiming to place the United States in a similar position as many underdeveloped countries in which affordable modern contraception is unavailable.
Despite the fact that 98% of Catholic women use contraception, and 99% of women in the U.S will have used contraception at some point in their life, Republicans seem determined to undermine hundreds of years of development in health care technology and women’s rights, either to gain the conservative pro-religious vote or for their own personal convictions.
White House officials’ incredulity over the political backlash that followed the administration’s decisions over contraception coverage is not in the least bit surprising. In a country in which the separation between church and state has been maintained for the past 200 years, discussions on political policy founded on concepts of religious morality should be considered inappropriate and out of place.
Because birth control ceased to be a controversial topic for most Americans centuries ago, the GOP risks alienating a large segment of the population, especially women, with these extremist policies. Different methods of birth control have been available in pharmacies throughout the United States since the 1870s, and the birth control pill has been legal in the U.S. for over half a century.
Polls have demonstrated that only 8% of Americans believe that contraception is immoral. The other 92% will have to decide if they are willing to support a presidential candidate that wishes to prohibit their right to decide when and if to start a family. It appears that most young unmarried women, also the demographic most likely to use birth control, are deciding to support Obama’s reelection regardless of their other political views.
None of these facts, however, stopped former GOP presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich from openly supporting the “personhood amendment,” which hopes to ban all forms of hormonal birth control, such as the birth control pill or IUD. Additionally, Rick Santorum has publicly voiced his belief that the use of contraception is immoral. These views demonstrate that the American right wing is completely out of touch with the issues that most normal Americans face, and is likely to lose many votes as a consequence.