By Dave Andrusko
Whether it is an ultrasound bill in Virginia or President Obama’s mandate requiring religiously-affiliated universities, hospitals, and charities to pay for health insurance that covers sterilization and contraception, all the buzz now is about “framing.” In a nutshell that idiom simply means that the side that is able to define the issue– the subject is about “this” and not about “that”– has a huge advantage. It’s like blinkers which force the topic to be seen in a particular fashion to the exclusion of any other.
In the Commonwealth, abortion supporters have had a field day at the expense of an inconvenient truth. The very same procedure they liken to “medical rape” is precisely what almost all abortionists already do in preparation for almost all abortions. They use an instrument—a trans-vaginal transducer—to calculate the baby’s age.
That unyielding fact of life (and death) has gotten purposefully lost in a two-fisted assault: mocking skits from pop culture icons such as “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “Saturday Night Live”; and coverage in publications such as the Washington Post whose reporting is indistinguishable from the talking points ground out by the Abortion Establishment.
Likewise with the President’s mandate (coming from his Department of Health and Human Services), originally issued last month and re-issued this month with lots of talk about “accommodation” but no actual change. In fact as details seeped out, it became clear that everything opponents feared had come to pass.
For instance, religiously-affiliated college and universities which self-insure would be required to offer the coverage they find spiritually and morally wrong. That is why opponents, such as Archbishop Charles Chaput, flatly state that “the HHS mandate, including its latest variant, is belligerent, unnecessary, and deeply offensive to the content of Catholic belief.”
But honoring religious freedom is not high on the President’s agenda. Politics—specifically his re-election—is. That’s why he and his defenders frame the issue as a referendum on contraception, which has widespread support, rather than shoving mandates down the throats of unwilling people of faith, which has a much smaller supportive audience.
The irony is just staggering. The lament that there is an “erosion” of the separation between church and state is always framed as “conservatives” elbowing their views into the public square. But when the assault takes the force of the government imposing regulations onto religious organizations and religiously-affiliated organizations, there is no breach of the “wall” between church and state.
Put another way any resistance is turned upside down. Not to agree to change the status quo is a form of aggression.
National Review’s Rich Lowry has an interesting column out on the mandate with two especially insightful observations.
Three Democratic women senators, Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire), Barbara Boxer (California), and Patty Murray (Washington), wrote in the Wall Street Journal that critics of the mandate ‘are trying to force their politics on women’s personal health-care decisions.’ How are they proposing to do that exactly? The Catholic bishops are merely fighting to keep institutions affiliated with their church from getting coerced into participating in what they consider a moral wrong. They are the agents of a status quo that the day before yesterday wasn’t considered objectionable, let alone an assault on women’s health.”
What’s this battle about? Lowry’s conclusion
It is about bringing institutions thought to be retrograde to heel, and discrediting their morality. It is kulturkampf disguised as public health.
Two other quick considerations.
First, there is the cynical attempt to delegitimize opposition to the mandate by framing it as just another way of attacking ObamaCare. There is no sincerity, we’re told, just politics by another name. The fact that the Catholic Church has long been supportive of genuine health care reform, again, just gets erased by the campaign to smear critics.
Second, there are such things as principle, or an idea’s underlying logic. In the case of the mandate it is that insurers can be required to provide the coverage for “free” because birth control is less expensive than childbirth. In a second Obama term, the same twisted logic will be applied elsewhere, as NRLC Legislative Director Douglas Johnson explained.
“By ordering health plans to cover elective abortion, health plans would save the much higher costs of prenatal care, childbirth, and care for the baby — and under the Obama scam, if a procedure saves money, then that means that you’re not really paying for it when the government mandates it.”
And the Obama doublespeak–“you must pay, but nobody pays”—might easily be applied to other “cost-cutting” mandates. As Johnson noted, “Perhaps every health plan will be mandated to cover physician-assisted suicide, in states in which assisted suicide is legal. After all, each suicide would result in a net savings to the plan, and under the Obama scam, that means it is really free and nobody really pays for it.”
Pro-abortionists will attempt to hide their agenda in a fog of hysteria and misdirection all the way through the next election. Our job to make sure the truth shines through.