Thursday, February 16, 2012

President Obama AND GOP: Don't Underestimate the Wisdom of Women

On Fox and Friends earlier this week, Governor Palin spoke about the Obama administration’s contraception mandate which requires religious institutions, or any employers for that matter, to provide insurance coverage for contraceptives, even if it violates their consciences. Governor Palin responds with a perspective that few other politicians provide (emphasis added):
[President Obama is] underestimating the wisdom of women. Because women understand there is access to preventative care and contraception out there, and we don't need government to tell our employers that they must provide that for us. 
Truly, it is a war on our religious liberties and that violation of conscience that he would mandate that is un-American because it violates our First Amendment in our Constitution.
Governor Palin is indeed right. A recent CNN poll shows that approval of President Obama’s contraception mandate among women is only at 47% (46% of women opposed it, 7% have no opinion). While there is a 1% difference between approval and disapproval, this is within the 4.5% margin of error. In other words, not even a majority of women approve of the mandate, even though 85% surveyed in the poll approve  of the use of contraception.The issue is not contraception; it's the mandate. Governor Palin, who is not opposed to the use of contraception, recognizes the real issue at stake is individual liberty. Is it any wonder that our Founders not only placed the freedom of religion in the first amendment, they listed it first among the rights described in the first amendment? Would it not seem ludicrous if the federal government began to mandate Muslim grocers to sell pork or orthodox Jews to sell food that wasn’t kosher? Yet, this is the same principle that is being applied to the Catholic Church. President Obama’s supposed compromise puts the burden on insurance companies if an institution is opposed to contraception, but it is unsure how this affects many Catholic hospitals that self-insure. The head of the Catholic hospital system that governs the Catholic hospital in Springfield, Illinois has still “questions and concerns” about how this “compromise” will work.

  The Independent Women’s Forum notes, if this mandate were to be overturned, it would change nothing from how things currently operate where employers have the freedom to choose insurance plan options for their employees. As I argued earlier this week, if we had a health insurance system divorced from employment and based on the free market, it would provide the vehicle for individual freedom in general and religious freedom specifically. Is it any wonder why Governor Palin has recently been juxtaposing the 2012 political debate as one between the party of freedom vs. the party of government?

Governor Palin is not the only conservative politician who realizes what is truly at stake. Last week, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to the mandate:


Today, during the Congressional hearing regarding the mandate, Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle noted:
"I really find it so objectionable," Buerkle said at a hearing of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. "This is a fundamental assault on all religions. It is an affront to each and every American…This is a fundamental assault on our First Amendment rights."
Contrary to Nancy Pelosi’s false assertions, there were female panelists who appeared during this hearing. What the GOP needs to realize is that they are winning the ideological battle, but they are struggling to win the messaging battle. Governor Palin has artfully framed the debate as a battle between freedom and government. Senator Ayotte and Rep. Buerkle have also realized the freedoms that is at stake. The Republican party would do well to realize that President Obama indeed does not recognize the wisdom of women, but a few ladies in their own party are quite wise and should serve as messengers of freedom.

Crossposted here and here.

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