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Why is a fundamental women's right a fight?
The purpose of this post is to get our readers updated on birth control – what Obama has done and what his opponents are saying. Clashes about birth control coverage for women seem to have everyone talking, including Foster Friess, a primary contributor to Santorum’s Super PAC. He said, "Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly." [i]
Per the Affordable Care Act, starting July 2012 most new health care policies, and eventually all insurance policies, will offer a list of preventive services for women WITHOUT COPAY OR DEDUCTIBLE [ii]. This includes all forms of FDA-approved contraceptives. (Bayer Aspirin is not on that list, Friess, you disgusting man.) This list of women’s services is based on recommendations from a July 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps," which identified key components of women’s health services that have been shown to “improve well-being." [iii]
Yet some religious institutions, who offer insurance plans as employers, are upset that this interferes with their beliefs. It should be noted, that many of the insurance plans that do not cover contraceptives do cover medications like Viagra. [iv]
So in response, Obama put a caveat in the policy that would allow institutions to opt out, but women will be guaranteed no-cost access to contraception by a requirement that the insurance company offer the coverage instead.
"The result will be that religious organizations won't have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women, and they'll no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars a year that could go towards paying the rent or buying groceries," says President Obama. [v]
In Wednesday’s Arizona Republican debate during discussions on this issue, Romney dogged (ahem) Obama and said, "I don't think we've seen in the history of this country the kind of attack on religious conscience, religious freedom, religious tolerance that we've seen under Barack Obama." [vi]
In this same debate, Santorum lamented about the birth control issue, stating that 40% of children are born outside of wedlock and that birth control is bad for women and society. Wait. Doesn’t birth control reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies?
Really, I could go on and on, but I think it is worth just taking a step back: Why are we fighting about this?
Several months ago, I had a group lunch with a prominent physician from the World Health Organization who oversaw research studies in Cuba. I was very impressed with his descriptions of the quality health care and research in Cuba. He said, “Well, the Cuban government prioritizes two things: education and health. So that is where they most of their money goes, and it shows. The United States prioritizes (pause) other things.”
I support President Barack Obama because he is prioritizing women’s health, particularly preventive services that save lives. Birth control is a beautiful thing.
And so it continues...
As if it wasn't bad enough that Rick Santorum decided to criticize Obama's faith, Mitt Romney decided he needed to do the same thing yesterday. My guess is that Romney saw Santorum's tactics as the straight and narrow path toward better poll numbers, and he demonstrated this today when he parroted Santorum at a campaign rally, claiming that Obama has "fought against religion" and has a "secular" agenda. See the article here:
The Christian Right is at the heart of Romney's free-fall in the polls. They don't like him because he's a flip-flopper; they don't like him because he's Mormon. And Santorum seems at least smart enough to capitalize on this weakness. He is the last standing alternative to Mitt Romney, and so he says what the Evangelicals want to hear; his comments about Obama's "phony theology" and his stand against prenatal screenings are just empty rhetoric meant to woo the Christian Right of the Republican party. He knows that Arizona and Michigan are week away, next is Washington, and Super Tuesday is afterwards, (we so excited) and he has a chance to win big.
I thought Romney wouldn't go this route considering that Mormons are told that they aren't Christian all the time. But this isn't the first time Santorum has done this. He claims that if you are a liberal, you can't be 'religious' and you certainly aren't Christian. (See link below where in 2008 Santorum claimed that there is no such thing as a liberal Christian). So Sorry Eric, you do not exist.
Both Romney and Santorum are on a roll (holy rollers). They've found a cadence for the religious campaign stumping, and they can only go down from here. The Crusades 2.0 are just beginning.
Here are Santorum's latest comments on Monday as reported on MSNBC's The Last Word:
"I don't know if you've been listening to the president, the secretary of state, and other members of the cabinet, when they talk about freedom of religion... They don't say that anymore. They talk about freedom of worship; well, you folks all know there's a big difference between freedom of worship and freedom of religion. Think about what I just said. We have leaders of this country who are now narrowing the view of what religious liberty is in the first amendment."
What does this even mean? Never mind that President Obama just talked about the importance of protecting "religious liberty" on February 10th at a news conference. Regardless, it seems that using the term "freedom of worship" broadens the view of religious liberty. Many people lead spiritual lives but are not connected to a specific religious institution. Many people follow a moral or value-system but are not believers in a God. So what of them? Shouldn't their right to worship be valued, protected, and recognized?
I think Joseph Smith said it best, and Romney and Santorum might learn something here:
Articles of Faith 1:11 - We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Amen to that.
Santorum just told a crowd of tea party people in an Ohio hotel that Obama's agenda was based on "some phony theology," and that it was "not a theology based on the Bible." I suppose Santorum is the new prophet of the people as Romney's poll numbers fall faster than Adam and Eve after... well, the Fall.
Rick Santorum: Obama Agenda Not 'Based On Bible'
So this is where I am puzzled. Everyone seems so afraid that Mitt Romney is attached by invisible puppet strings to the Church Office Building in Salt Lake City or that he'll center his presidency on the Book of Mormon, but yet we have Santorum indirectly proclaiming that he hopes to run America based on his mangled interpretation of a two-thousand-year-old document?
It isn't as if I don't want a moral president, but I just can't understand why it is so important that the president is some certain type of Christian. I am not comforted by the idea that a president would rely too completely on his own interpretation of God and His Holy Word to make decisions that might affect me. I think they tried that in the dark ages. Additionally, I object to one candidate accusing another of not being Christian enough or that a candidate would peddle his holiness and supposed religiosity to garner votes.
The separation of church and state is a good thing. In fact, I do not agree with the conservatives who call for prayer in school. I grew up with prayer in school; we all said grace, (as it was called in the South where I'm from,) before heading to the cafeteria for lunch. It went something like this:
God is great; God is Good
and we thank Him for our food
And then the Catholics would cross themselves, and I'd feel confused. I wasn't taught to pray that way; I was taught to say, "Dear Heavenly Father," and "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen," and most always, "We ask Thee to bless the Prophet." I suppose that if I found the daily prayer-chanting in school isolating and confusing, a Buddhist or Muslim or Jew might find it even more so. But maybe we don't care about them; maybe this country is for Christians only, everyone else be damned.
And by the way, this goes for us Mormons too: for those of you voting for tea party candidates, just remember that they most certainly believe that you belong to a cult and that you also adhere to a "phony theology," but they'll still take your vote and your campaign donations anyway.
So onto my final point here, a point that I have made previously: I am not interested in the religion of my president. Although my faith guides choices in my life and who I vote for, I am not more likely to vote for a Mormon than a Catholic president. Additionally, some right-wingers seem hell-bent on calling President Obama out as a Muslim (or even an atheist.) But I wonder what's the big deal? I wouldn't have a problem voting for a Muslim, just like many Muslims don't take issue voting for a Christian. (Besides, am I supposed to be worried that a Muslim president would wear an explosive vest to the State of the Union address?) I would be just as likely to vote for a Buddhist, a Jew, a Jain, or even a Christian for that matter, so long as their political beliefs coincided with mine and with my faith.
So Santorum: I am not voting for the next Preacher of the United States of America, so hush up about your religion and your Bible, and run for president already.
Class Warfare? You bet.
I realize that a posting on class warfare may seem about 6 months behind the times. Accusations of “Class Warfare” reached a fever pitch some months back amidst calls for a “millionaires tax,” the headline-grabbing “we are the 99%!” cry of the Occupy movement and Warren Buffet’s disclosure that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. The best synthesis of the discourse that I saw was provided, of course, by Jon Stewart .
The topic was brought to mind again recently when I read a NY Times article on the increasing number of conservative, middle-class Americans who receive some sort of government assistance .
In the article I learned that not only does the lowest income quintile receive 36% of all forms of government aid (down from 54% in 1980), but also that the top quintile actually took home about 12% of all aid. Additionally, a survey referenced in the article found that a plurality of respondents incorrectly named “programs for the poor” as the fastest-growing benefits program in the U.S.
I bring up these two points specifically because they are important in the larger context of the national debate surrounding topics like income inequality, budgets for social programs and class. The article illustrates what all poor people already know, which is that the answers to questions like who gets what from the government, and where should we be looking to make cuts, are seriously obscured by misinformation.
When imagery of animals digging through garbage, and terms like “welfare queen” and “parasite” are used on national television to describe those receiving government assistance (watch the Stewart clip!), it is clear that there is actually a concerted effort by some on the right to frame the debate in falsehoods.
While the right would have you believe that those receiving government assistance are lazy, greedy, black single mothers of 6, the numbers tell a different story. First, the large majority of all recipients of social programs are either children or the elderly. In FY 2011 nearly 75% of those receiving federal Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits were children . Medicare and Social Security, which together make up the government’s largest expenditure, are both only available to the elderly.
Okay, so most aid money goes to children and the poor (not counting the billions in tax breaks for big companies), but I bet the rest of them are just lazy, right? As mentioned above, almost 65% of all government aid goes to those above the lowest income quintile. Believe it or not rich folks, you can work hard and still have trouble making ends meet.
The TANF program, for example, contains employment requirements . And there are millions of working Americans who have seen their real wages decrease for decades, making government assistance necessary for things like health care, education, energy and housing. The price tags for these necessities have all skyrocketed, especially compared to most consumer goods, making the Heritage Foundation’s attacks on the poor for having televisions and microwaves seem particularly disgusting .
From 1970 to 2010 real wages for American workers declined by 28%, while national GDP nearly doubled . So who saw the gains from the growth in GDP? Over the same time period the top 0.1% of earners saw their share of national income rise by 385% !
The dishonest discourse fomented by the right has very serious consequences for all of us, and particularly the most vulnerable in our society. When the millionaires in Washington DC decide to ignore our woefully underfunded schools, choose to prioritize prisons over housing, and do nothing to fix healthcare, there are serious consequences. Over 46 million Americans live below the poverty line, the highest rate in the 52 years that the Census Bureau has published statistics on it , the U.S., with over 2.3 million people in prison, has by far the highest incarceration rate in the world , and an estimated 45,000 premature deaths occur each year because of lack of access to health care .
But despite reality, the right continues to ignore these problems and dismiss those who raise issue of equality as 'divisive'. Rick Santorum (a millionaire) even criticized Mitt Romney (a multi-millionaire) for using the term “middle class,” because he believes it is a Democratic term used to divide society . Which society is he is living in that he doesn’t see how very much divided we already are?
Yes, there is certainly a Class War raging, and I’ll give you one guess as to who is winning it.
The 28% figure takes into account the (non)wages received from the unemployed as well. Real wages over this period for only employed individuals dropped by a smaller, but still alarming, amount.
Why I Support President Obama (Part II)
I tried to stay rather upbeat (and nice) in my last post when I expressed my primary reason for supporting President Obama (expansion of access to healthcare in America), but in reality, I am not completely satisfied with how everything turned out. I am disappointed that we did not get the public option. While many in the far-left Democratic camp wanted a single payer system, I feel that this might be too much, too far, too Canada to ever get passed in Washington D.C. However, I wish that more moderate Democrats and Republicans would have gone "all in" and gotten us the public option; I suppose they were afraid of what might happen (and ultimately did happen) back home at election time. Yes, it appeared that many senators and representatives, in hopes of preserving their jobs in congress, carefully walked the edge of the healthcare blade in hopes that they would not be implicated by the far right when the final tally of votes was taken. But alas, the bloodletting of the 2010 congressional elections seemed to come straight out of the Rambo film franchise; the tea party republicans went for the gut, and bloody entrails were scattered across the ground. The moderate Dems and Repubs lost their jobs in such high numbers the unemployment rate ticked up half a percentage point (and yes, Obama was blamed for that too.) Even the beloved (but not far enough to the right?) Bob Bennett, Senator from Utah and grandson of Heber J. Grant, lost out to a tea party candidate, the some nameless son of Rex E. Lee, former president of BYU.
Even with the healthcare reform, millions of Americans will still be without coverage without a public option in place. I don't see anything Christian about the refusal to provide healthcare to American citizens, and their reasons always involve some sort of judgment of the poor: they're without healthcare because they don't want to work; they're lazy, they want free handouts; they don't take care of their health; it is their fault they are fat, or smoke, or don't exercise, or eat Krispy Kremes, (insert whatever you want to here - just be aware that wealthy people are perfectly healthy and never eat doughnuts or smoke cigarettes and thus deserve their healthcare.) I've become so frustrated with the Christian Right that I'm somewhat pleased that they don't claim us Mormons as Christian; in fact, it's gotten to the point that when I'm asked if I'm Christian, I feel as if I want to answer, "Heck no. I'm Mormon."
I know that name-calling happens on both sides of the political spectrum, but the raucousness that ensued during the healthcare debate in congress (the town hall meetings, Sarah Palin's death panel, charges of socialism) seemed to come very heavily from the conservatives. This wailing and gnashing of teeth only served to strengthen my feeling of resolve that Obama's plan was not only moral, but the right plan for America. He advocated a moderate plan that even the insurance companies could stand behind, and it's actually such a middle-of the road stance that many in Obama's own party disapproved.
I personally felt saddened by the loss of the public option, and my very liberal sister and I discussed the issue numerous times over the phone. She was angry that President Obama didn't fight harder for the public option: "Why is he being so weak? Why isn't he standing up to those Hatriots in Washington?" But I told her then, and I say it now: in the end, Obama's willingness to compromise and let it go only proved his skills as a leader. Healthcare reform was passed, millions more can now be covered. While Republicans dig in their heels on anything that Obama proposes and supports, he continues on. And so do we continue on in our support of him. Obama 2012.
What is your reason for standing with President Obama?
I voted for Obama and all I got was...
I was at the National Hispanic Medical Society conference in Washington DC when the House agreed to the Senate's amendment of the Affordable Care Act, on March 23, 2010. The energy and excitement was electrifying! My feelings that day are the same today--the Affordable Care Act is monumental and critical for our country. Indeed, it is one of the primary reasons why I support Obama wholeheartedly.
My favorite facts about the Affordable Care Act:
- Expands health care to 32 MILLION Americans
- Insurance companies are prevented from dropping sick people
- Insurance companies cannot deny children coverage if they have a pre-existing condition
- No lifetime caps on coverage
- Cost: $940bn over 10 years; but it would reduce deficit by $143bn by tackling fraud, abuse, and waste
- Expands women's health preventative coverage, including services such as well-woman visits, mammograms, domestic violence screening, screening for STIs, and access to birth control without charge
Of the Affordable Care Act, Barack Obama said "A good compromise, a good piece of legislation, is like a good sentence; or a good piece of music. Everybody can recognize it. They say, 'Huh. It works. It makes sense.'"
One of the most controversial aspects of the Affordable Care Act is this concept of the "individual mandate" or requiring people to have insurance. The individual mandate is really important because it reduces the overall costs of health care for everyone. But don't take my word for it. Heck, (not h-e-ll, we are mormons after all) don't take Barack Obama's word for it!
"If you don't want to buy insurance, then you have to help pay for the cost of the state picking up your bill, because under federal law if someone doesn't have insurance, then we have to care for them in the hospitals, give them free care. So we said, no more, no more free riders. We are insisting on personal responsibility. Either get the insurance or help pay for your care."
Mitt Romney, defending the 2006 Massachusetts Health Reform in a debate with Rick Santorum, Jacksonville, Florida, 1/26/12
YES! More cowbell. At a time when partisan politics have harshly criticized the 2010 US health care reform, I long to hear Mitt Romney defend the Massachusetts Health Reform! I believe there are far more important reasons for health reform (like, uhh, helping people), but it is soooo refreshing to hear it defended in 'Republican speak'.
I'm not the only one who feels good about this. Of Romney's words, Prof. John McDonough from Harvard School of Public Health said, "Romney has given in this entire presidential campaign last evening what I believe is the most effective and persuasive rationale and defense of the individual mandate."
A recent study reports that Taxachusetts (as my in-laws so lovingly call it) is doing very well after the 2006 health initiative. Access to health care remains high, emergency room visits are down, and there has been some improvements in health outcomes.
"I gotta fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell!"
President Barack Obama, you gained my (second) vote on March 23, 2010. And I personally thank you for on behalf of all 32 million Americans who will now have access to health care!
Post by Doctor LauraClubFancy, your health care correspondent-
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