(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
Barring an unexpected last-minute jolt of sanity, at midnight tonight the federal government will shut down all but its most essential services. Despite the Senate passing a clean bill last week to continue funding the government, the Republican-led House early Sunday morning chose to forsake their basic responsibility to keep our country functioning, and instead used the impending shutdown as a last-ditch opportunity to delay the Affordable Care Act—the president’s signature bill that would insure millions of Americans unable to afford healthcare on the open market.
But if the Republicans’ single-minded obsession with delaying or repealing Obamacare isn’t enough partisan politics, an amendment they rammed through in the dark of night added language that would give bosses the power to decide whether women who work for them should have access to birth control through their healthcare coverage. (They had help from two anti-choice Democrats: Jim Matheson of Utah and Mike McIntyre of North Carolina.) The combination of the two measures puts the budget bill back in the hands of the Democrat-controlled Senate, which will almost certainly strip out these outrageous provisions and send the bill back to the House, which has until midnight tonight to approve the measure or shut down the federal government.
Americans may be familiar with the Tea Party Republican’s obsession with crippling Obamacare before the insurance exchanges open tomorrow, October 1. What’s less known is their backward position that women’s birth control coverage—whether used for family planning or for medical necessity—should be decided by employers. Given that 99 percent of all women in this country use birth control at some point in their lives, this position puts anti-choice lawmakers not only outside the mainstream but in a different galaxy from the mainstream.
This is not new. In 2012, Senator Roy Blunt tried to pass similar language as part of a highway funding bill. The so-called “Blunt amendment” was stripped out by Senate Democrats then, but now it’s back as Republicans have decided that the budget fight is the perfect chance to renew their very real war on women.
Remember Republicans’ soul-searching after they lost big in 2012 thanks to the largest election gender gap in modern history? Apparently that search turned up empty, since the resolution they approved this weekend forces millions of American adult women to ask permission of their employers before they get their birth control pills covered in their health insurance like all other medications.