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Dems Seize Message on Hill Hours Away from Contraceptive Mandate

The left side of the aisle is confident that the American public will see something they like in ObamaCare; the right side of the aisle was laying low.

Bridget Johnson


July 31, 2012 - 3:07 pm
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“This isn’t just a war against the pill,” Durbin said. “This isn’t a war against family planning. This is literally a war against women.”

“Why don’t we let Americans see the good parts of healthcare before we repeal it?” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “And we’re not going to repeal it!” he quickly added.

Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), one of the key legislative architects behind propelling ObamaCare into law, warned of the new benefits that if Mitt Romney would be elected, “It’s gone.”

“Does that kind of give you some idea of how they feel about the women of America and the healthcare of our mothers, our sisters, our daughters?” he said. “I think it’s more than passing curious that the Republican leader wants to vote to repeal it on the very day that we’re expanding healthcare coverage for the women of America.”

“I think women know what they’re facing now coming up this fall,” Harkin continued. “…I think the women of America need to have some deep soul searching about who they want deciding their fate after this presidential election.”

Senate Democrats also held a press conference with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to laud tomorrow’s launch. “President Obama is moving our country forward by giving women control over their health care,” Sebelius said. “This law puts women and their doctors, not insurance companies or the government, in charge of health care decisions.”

Special-interest groups added to the unified messaging front. The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice launched a “Celebration, Education Campaign” on the contraceptive coverage going into effect under ObamaCare.

“Unfortunately, false prophets have been misleading the public about healthcare reform and especially about contraception,” Rev. Harry Knox, leader of the group, told reporters on a conference call today. “These naysayers are spending their donor dollars and time on frivolous lawsuits against women’s healthcare. We think this is an outrage.”

At the White House, press secretary Jay Carney defended the mandates when asked about the challenges on religious grounds that have already been upheld by some state courts.

On Friday, the U.S. District Court for Colorado blocked the Obama administration from requiring that Hercules Industries, a Colorado-based air-conditioning company, provide the free contraceptive coverage because the company’s owners oppose birth control on religious grounds. It’s a case that takes debate over the mandate beyond exemption questions for faith-based institutions.

The company has a 3-month reprieve from the mandate, which carries hefty fines if violated, while the judge weighs its constitutionality.

“I’m not going to comment on specific litigation …or broadly on it,” Carney said. “I can tell you that we’re moving forward to implement this important rule that will ensure that women across the country have access to preventive services. It’s a rule that also makes sure that religious liberty is respected.”

While the provisions face their test in court, though, they surely got a day of fanfare in Washington with little retort from the opposition.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was busy forging an agreement with Reid today to pass a six-month continuing budget resolution when they return from recess in September.

Seventeen Republican freshman including Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), whose repeal bill became the Blunt amendment, and Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) will mark the first day of the HHS mandate with a press conference outside the Capitol tomorrow. “The real issues are whether the First Amendment is broad enough to include beliefs with which we disagree, and whether government can tacitly or otherwise force us to abandon our religious beliefs simply because something may constitute sound public policy in certain political circles,” Gowdy said.

The Senate floor today, though, belonged to ObamaCare and birth control.

“For some in this chamber, they wake up every day thinking about how they’re going to stop President Obama, how they’re going to stop his agenda, and how they’re going to do everything they can to stop him from having a second term,” Mikulski said. “Well, you can wake up every day thinking about how you want to stop America from moving forward. That’s not how I spend my day.”

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Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.
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