Birth control is going to create more homeless veterans!
Fighting birth control is the Catholic Church's Rosa Parks moment!
Obama is Hitler because he wants health insurance to cover birth control without co-pays!
If women get access to birth control people will have sex outside of procreation!
Yes, real people, real, powerful people, actually said all of those things.
It's 2012 and the biggest controversy in Washington, D.C., is over
, unemployment , the foreclosure crisis , birth control. the war in Afghanistan
Just hours ago, a committee in the House of Representatives hosted a hearing on birth control where every single person who testified on this issue was a man. And one even likened birth control to a... ham sandwich.
Welcome to your democracy, ladies and gentlemen.
Over the last few weeks there has been an ongoing campaign, led by a minority of wildly out-of-touch bishops, to attack the administration over requiring insurance coverage of birth control. Let's leave aside the fact that 98% of Catholic women have used birth control at some point in their lives, or that 60% of women who use birth control need it to prevent illnesses like ovarian cancer, endometriosis or Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, just to name a few.
Let's focus on the fact that after the administration went out of its way to accommodate their concerns -- in our view, unnecessarily -- Catholic bishops still railed against the policy. It is not enough that they, as religious institutions, don't have to pay for contraception because they find it objectionable -- they want to make it so no one provides women access to birth control. If a bishop wants to leave the church tomorrow and open a Taco Bell, well, he shouldn't have to provide contraception either.
So, now they have exposed themselves. And the Republican leadership is eager to get in on the fringe action.
Is there an economic crisis? Are people struggling in extreme poverty? No matter, the bishops and Republican men in the House and Senate have their priorities: they are committed to gutting women's access to health care. Republicans in Congress have actually gone an extra step -- now they don't just want to repeal the birth control mandate. They're going to vote on ending coverage for mammograms and Type 2 Diabetes too.
Here's what's important to know about all this: They are going to lose.
Firstly, moderate Republicans like Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins actually think the administration's accommodation solves the problem and they support insurance coverage from birth controlbecause, well, it's important to women.
Secondly, every major poll out before and after this decision shows significant majorities of voters support the president's decision and the idea of birth control being covered by insurance.
Thirdly -- and this is important -- the lesson of the last two weeks is that if you attack women and our access to critical preventive health care services, we WILL rise up and we will win.
The best and most recent example of that reality was the massive response to the Susan G. Komen foundation's attempt to defund Planned Parenthood -- a direct extension of a Republican strategy in Congress to delegitimize Planned Parenthood as a service provider.
The responses by literally millions of women and men across the country over one institution's attempt to play politics with women's lives made it clear: Americans will fight for women's access to the health care they need.
If Republican leadership thinks this is a smart fight, by all means pick it. They will lose their own supporters, sane members of their own caucuses and expose themselves to the American public as hell bent on making the lives of women harder.
And they will grow the ranks of progressive institutions that fight for women and their health.
Take for example our experience organizing around this issue in the last two weeks: We have grown tremendously since this issue was introduced -- to more than a quarter million people nationwide. In the last few days alone, 73,000 people have signed a petition to Speaker Boehner telling him not to repeal Obama's rule. And yesterday over 10,000 people picked up the phone and called their members of Congress to deliver the same message.
Why is the response this tremendous? Because these are real people's lives they're messing with. And Americans fundamentally understand that. The stories emerging from our members help paint this picture.
Ashley from Indiana told us, "I use birth control to help with my ovarian cysts and endometriosis, so that when I'm ready to have children, my body will be ready and willing too. All women should have the RIGHT to affordable health coverage."
And Erika from Minnesota wrote in, "I'm a single mom and I just can't afford birth control. The one time I was on the pill it cost me $140 for a three-month supply. As the birth control pill is used as more than simply avoiding pregnancy (it can be used as treatment for a number of different issues) it makes sense to me that at least some form of birth control should be available to the public at a reasonable cost to the consumer."
If Republicans want to go down this road, we welcome the fight.
If you want to join us, add your name to this petition to Congress to oppose any legislation that would overturn the President's mandate to make contraception available to all employees through their insurer.
Follow Nita Chaudhary on Twitter: www.twitter.com/UltraViolet