For the past several weeks, Republicans in Congress have been consumed with a planned Health and Human Services mandate, which beginning August 1 will require employers to offer a health insurance plan that covers birth control for women, without a copayment—unless the employer is a church or house of worship, in which case it is exempt. If there is an institution run by a religious outfit but not a church—say, Georgetown University—the insurer must cover the cost of contraception coverage, not the employer.
This seemingly arcane policy change—a vast majority of the country uses birth control, and religious outfits can pretty much escape the mandate anyway—has nevertheless been the subject of two hearings in the House of Representatives and one floor debate and vote in the Senate.
During these debates, Republicans rigorously denied they have any problem with contraception or female sexuality, Rush Limbaugh’s comments notwithstanding. Instead they’ve used florid language about religious freedom, the founding fathers, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr.—heck, even Josef Stalin—and a wide variety of other crazy, nonsensical arguments.
Here are the eleven nuttiest:
“This debate strikes to the heart of the freedoms we as Americans enjoy. Why do we have these freedoms? We have them because in 1776 the people decided they were sick and tired of the King telling them they had to do this and they had to do that and had totally wiped out a number of freedoms they had.” —Idaho Senator James Risch, March 1
“[This] is about who we are as Americans and renewing our commitment to the principles upon which this nation was founded. This debate comes down to the legacy left behind by our founding fathers and over 200 years of American history.” —New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, March 1
“Now, I would like to know what legal authority he relies upon that the president could ever order anyone to offer a service or an item for free. He has no such authority. This is not the Soviet Union; this is the United States of America.” —Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns, March 1
“I don’t normally call from Joseph Stalin, but today he said something appropriate, about liberty. He said America is a like a healthy body, and it’s resistance is three-fold, it’s patriotism, it’s morality, it’s spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within. I would encourage our church, I would encourage Congress, I would encourage our administration to fight back strongly against what Stalin understood.” —Michigan Representative Tim Walberg, February 16