271 celibate old dudes vs. 100 million+ American women: Who’ll win this culture war?


Bishops say: "No Pill for you!" (Photo by Mazur/catholicchurch.org.uk)

Catholic bishops and Rick Santorum’s looney-tunes fans are all bent out of shape because the Obama administration says health-insurance plans should cover the full cost of prescription birth control. And the rest of us have to care about this tiny cadre of crusty old white dudes because … why? Can anyone explain this to me?

Anthony Badami at The Daily Agenda lays out the situation in a post entitled “Who Are the 271 Celibate Men Trying to Control the Sex Lives of American Women?” Those 271 allegedly celibate men would be the members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which, as Badami points out, “has included and harbored known pedophiles.”

Meanwhile, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women use modern forms of birth control.

Nonetheless, Obama feels compelled to compromise with the crazies. At least the compromise should still allow all women insured under Catholic institutions to get birth control without a copay or deductible. For that very reason, you know the way-right-wingers will not be satisfied.

Tim Dickinson at Rolling Stone puts the issue into context:

Progressives scored three mighty victories in recent days:

First, the Obama administration moved to require employer insurance plans to provide free contraception to workers — no religious exemptions for Catholic groups allowed.

Second, the backlash over the defunding of Planned Parenthood forced the Susan G. Komen foundation to fire its Tea Partying chief of public policy, Karen Handel.

Third and most important, the Ninth Circuit ruled Monday to overturn California’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

This trinity of setbacks helps explain Santorum’s electoral hat trick [of winning two caucuses and one primary on Feb. 7]. They’re the kind of defeats that produce spasms of tribalism and victimhood among social conservatives. Every part of that reactionary dynamic favors Santorum — whose anti-contraception, anti-abortion, queer-bashing bonafides have never been in question …

David Remnick of The New Yorker has more on the rekindled “culture wars.” We’ve heard over and over again that this year’s election will be all about the economy. But if the economy looks to be doing OK, then ‘wingers aren’t going to want to talk about it:

The more the economy shows signs of life — however slight, however deceptive in many ways — the more the Republicans, and their media champions, are likely to resort to the kind of battles outlined in Bill O’Reilly’s 2006 book, “Culture Warrior,” which posited a country divided between decent, hard-working people of faith and pernicious secular liberals — a small but powerful Soros-funded minority that knows only contempt for “traditional American values” and wants to mold the country into “the image of Western Europe.”

Irin Carmon of Salon makes this key point:

It’s … been striking how much the conversation on the right and in many mainstream media forums has been dominated by men arguing about how much of a right they have to deny access to contraception, the responsibility for which, in practice, still overwhelmingly falls on women.

We’re already fighting a class war. Now we have to fight culture wars too?

See also: Rick Santorum wants women to have lots of babies, whether they like it or not


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