Nothing To See Here, Folks — This Isn’t Actually About Contraception

“GOP GOES ALL IN” is the headline on TPM, and that really is the only way to describe the party’s latest maneuver on contraception:

Not satisfied with President Obama’s new religious accommodation, Republicans will move forward with legislation by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) that permits any employer to deny birth control coverage in their health insurance plans, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said Sunday…

The Blunt amendment… would “ensure that health care stakeholders retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions” under the Affordable Care Act. Similar legislation was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) before the White House announced Friday that it would allow religious nonprofits such as charities, hospitals and universities to opt out of paying for contraception coverage and force the insurance company to do so instead.

McConnell’s defense of this amendment is strikingly disingenuous, even by the standards of members of Congress. As TPM points out, anti-contraception positions tend not to fly with the American public (because of that whole it-not-being-1960 thing), so the Minority Leader is trying to steer the conversation elsewhere:

“The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem. This is about freedom of religion, it’s right there in the First Amendment. You can’t miss it — right there in the very first amendment to our Constitution,” McConnell said. “What the overall view on the issue of contraception is has nothing to do with an issue about religious freedom.”

Earlier I said I was curious to hear more about Rick Santorum’s clearly impassioned stance on voting rights after he accused Mitt Romney of abusing the CPAC straw-poll process. Now I’m equally curious to get McConnell’s thoughts on the observant Muslim taxi drivers who refused to transport customers carrying alcohol back in 2007. How could he not support them? He is very concerned about freedom of religion.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.