Chris Matthews has been on a tear all week ever since the announcement that the Obama administration was going to require some religious institutions' health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control. So who better to bring on as one of his
February 8, 2012

Chris Matthews has been on a tear all week ever since the announcement that the Obama administration was going to require some religious institutions' health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control. So who better to bring on as one of his guests than the Washington Post's Melinda Henneberger who just wrote an op-ed full of, as NARAL's Blog for Choice noted "misleading claims from anti-contraception groups regarding the Obama administration's decision to ensure millions of Americans have insurance coverage of contraception."

You can read their rebuttal to Henneberger's column here -- Counterpoint to Henneberger's Column in The Washington Post. You can read their entire response to Hennenberger's claims of discrimination and on the contraceptive coverage in their post, but I wanted to share wanted to share part of it here:

Response: Henneberger's claim implies that she knows the myriad of reasons why all women who happen to work at a religiously affiliated hospital or service agency might need contraception, including those whose doctors prescribe contraception for health reasons and not for pregnancy-prevention.

A recent story in The New York Times ("Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges," January 29, 2012) illustrates the dire consequences for women's health when institutions are allowed to block coverage of contraception:

One recent Georgetown law graduate, who asked not to be identified for reasons of medical privacy, said she had polycystic ovary syndrome, a condition for which her doctor prescribed birth control pills. She is gay and had no other reason to take the pills. Georgetown does not cover birth control for students, so she made sure her doctor noted the diagnosis on her prescription. Even so, coverage was denied several times. She finally gave up and paid out of pocket, more than $100 a month. After a few months she could no longer afford the pills. Within months she developed a large ovarian cyst that had to be removed surgically -- along with her ovary.

"If I want children, I'll need a fertility specialist because I have only one working ovary," she said.

Henneberger claims that the criticism of this new rule threatens the Affordable Care Act.

Actually, this woman's story from Georgetown is one of the key reasons the Obama administration's decision is a win for women. Now, women in this situation won't have to fight for insurance coverage of medication that could prevent them from having health-related complications in the future.

Something that was completely lost on both Matthews and Henneberger in the interview above. As Digby noted earlier today "Said it before and I'll say it again --- with friends like Melinda Henneberger women don't need enemies."

Taylor Marsh had a few words for Matthews and his ilk that are worth sharing here as well -- Rachel Maddow Slams ’60-something Male Pundits’:

“I realize a lot of 60-something male pundits look at this issue & think hmmm… bad politics for Democrats on the Catholic side. There’s another way to look at it.” – Rachel Maddow

Who are those “60-something male pundits?” More importantly why do we care what they think?

Mark Shields, E.J. Dionne and Chris Matthews, as I see it, are three of them, but there are many more. [...]

We’ve seen throughout our media during this debate why the story on women’s rights and our freedoms is so often left in the dark. They ignore the issue at hand and jump to the fantasy political impact, while screaming about the 20th century traditional views that don’t represent the 21st generation. [...]

Men like Matthews, Shields and Dionne are representatives of this religious hierarchy because they fuel the Catholic Church’s anti-women agenda. But modern women of all faiths and none are seeing through them, because after all, it’s the 21st century and it’s long past time for women to take back faith and spirituality.

Our traditional media, cable networks and even new media sites are replete with hostility for the basic instruments women need to maintain their financial health and plan their lives. They are led by men and network executives, producers and others who are cowardly and some even unethical, putting profits above women’s health and economic security, or pretending there’s a religious freedom issue to boost ratings and the political pie fight.

Below is a comment I want to share from “roseOred.” People are watching how this subject is being covered and many don’t like who networks are choosing to make an argument against women.

With the exception of Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes, MSNBC has been infuriating me on this topic.

  • They gloss over or ignore the fact that religious universities and hospitals benefit from public money.
  • They ignore the fact that a whole bunch of states all ready require religious universities and hospitals to cover contraception and there was no big uproar over it.
  • They ignore the fact that apparently some of those states require even churches to cover birth control (thank you Rachel Maddow).
  • They ignore the fact that for a lot of women in a lot of areas, just going to a different hospital or finding a job at another hospital/university isn’t easy, realistic, or even possible.
  • There’s no mention of the fact that in this economy it is particularly heinous to vilify contraception given the cost of having and raising children.
  • There’s nobody pointing out the irony that when working class or poor women- especially women of color- have unplanned babies and require government assistance to feed them, conservatives fall all over themselves to blame them and call them a drag on society, welfare queens, etc. (You’d think for that reason alone they’d try to help poor women control their own fertility. Of course then they’d lose that warm feeling they get from feeling superior and demonizing groups of people they know nothing about. And they’d lose the perceived electoral benefits that this kind of posturing gives them.)
  • And nobody (save Melissa Harris-Perry) has mentioned the one thing that would end this whole controversy forever and ever: the adoption by the US of single-payer healthcare or a public option. If we had either one of those things, nobody’s healthcare would get in anybody’s religion and nobody’s religion would get in anybody’s healthcare. Instant fix, everybody happy! Right?

You know what I love? Some middle aged white dude telling me how problematic our lady-needs are for Catholics (98% of whom use contraception) and for the President’s re-election chances (as if there is any indication at this point that the general election will be that competitive, given the profoundly flawed group of Republican candidates and upward economic trends).

And from WWJTD on Henneberger -- Church teaching:

Melinda Henneberger is upset. It turns out Obama decreed that Catholic institutions doing secular work must provide basic health care to their employees, including giving women the option to control what comes out of their own bodies.

She expresses her displeasure in a rant so rank with privilege you could smell it from the moon. [...]

It doesn’t matter if it’s church teaching that gays should be bullied or not receive equal rights; it doesn’t matter if it’s church teaching that you pray for your sick children rather than take them to a hospital; and it doesn’t matter if it’s church teaching that women should have children they don’t want or for which they’re unprepared. The government needs to be in the business of protecting individuals. Failure to do so should be what weighs on our conscience, not whether or not something violates church teaching.

Sadly, the protection of the government must frequently come at the expense of church teaching.

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