If you've been hiding under an especially sturdy and soundproof rock for the past month, perhaps you missed out on the increasingly bitter national debate over contraception coverage. Lucky for you, U.S. Representative Ralph Hall has taken a break from doubting global warming and talking about how incredibly safe fracking is to put it all in perspective for us. Because no one, you see, is more passionately invested in the issue of contraception than 89-year-old men.
Quick review: In August, the Obama administration mandated that some "preventative services" be included in all health insurance plans, including contraception and sterilization. Religiously affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities would still be required to include free birth control coverage in their own health plans, although churches who objected to hormonal birth control could opt out. But the inclusion of those other religious institutions caused an outcry from some religious groups (and this fun, all-male panel on Capitol Hill talking about contraception and religious freedom).
A Georgetown law student named Sandra Fluke was barred from testifying about the necessity of contraception coverage by Representative Darrell Issa. Then Rush Limbaugh called her a slut and suggested he, and everybody else, really deserved to see some videos of her having sex. Limbaugh being dumb and offensive inexplicably shocked everybody, and we haven't stopped talking about it since. Last Thursday, an effort by GOP senators to block the requirement narrowly failed, in a 51-48 vote.
Back in mid-February, President Obama attempted to present a compromise. Those religiously affiliated nonprofits could opt out of the contraception mandate too, and their female employees would instead get their contraception free directly from their health insurance provider. According to the Washington Post, "The arrangement would not add any cost to the employee's premium, the argument being that prevention of childbirth is cheaper than childbirth."
But this, Hall now says, is not good enough.
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In a statement posted to his website, Hall said the mandate still violates religious freedom, writing, in part:
Despite the President's claims that insurance companies will have to provide contraception for "free," we all know nothing in this lifetime is free, and these costs will be passed right back to everyone, including religious institutions, in the form of higher premiums. In short, religious institutions would still be required to provide funding for services they morally oppose.
The President and his administration have drastically overstepped their bounds by creating this rule. The Constitution protects religious freedom, and government meddling in the affairs of religious communities by forcing them to comply with policies that violate their beliefs is unacceptable.
If the President does not reverse this attack on religious freedom, Congress will take action on behalf of the American people. I am prepared to work on legislation to repeal this portion of the President's health care law.
In addition, I have taken numerous actions against not only this rule, but against the entirety of the President's over-reaching and expensive health care law, which I voted against.
To sum up: The State of Texas does not want to pay for your birth control (or your cancer screenings) if you're poor. Conservative politicians nationwide don't want your employer even your insurance company, to pay for them either. And if you're unwise enough to testify publicly about how expensive birth control is when you pay for it out-of-pocket, a pale, bloated, ghastly, vitriolic moon of a radio host will gripe for weeks about what an entitled slut you are.
Is that clear enough? Because we'd like to retreat back underneath our soundproof rock now, if you don't mind.