Kathryn Lopez

I am woman, and I'm offended.

I am offended that, once again, parties in positions of power have decided to pretend that all women are cut from the same political cloth. I am offended, and alarmed, that religion is seen increasingly by many of those same parties not as a vibrant good in our democracy, but as a mere sideshow for nostalgic people or citizens in need of a crutch.

I am offended that the Catholic Church has been attacked as being anti-woman -- the same church in which strong women like Sister Elizabeth Ann Seton built a world-class education system for the poor in a less-than-welcoming environment. I am offended that my government would penalize religious women like Seton in the future, telling them they cannot be who they are called to be; telling them their consciences must be dictated by the state.

And I am deeply offended about what is being said about men. A few good men have stuck their necks out lately in defense of religious freedom in America, and they deserve to be thanked and defended as they counter a dedicated campaign of dishonesty, hysterics and even raw bigotry.

Reasonable women cannot remain silent as the secretary of state pretends that the U.S. under a President Santorum or Romney would be an oppressive state for women. Or as a New York Times columnist echoes her, insisting that good men protecting conscience rights are "cavemen," and that Republican men are trying to "wrestle American women back into chastity belts" in an "insane bout of mass misogyny." Or as Terry O'Neill, president of the National Organization for Women, calls the U.S. Catholic bishops "violently anti-woman."

This is miserable, insulting, desperate stuff. It's just not right. Women of reason cannot let it stand, and we're not.

Standing alongside men like Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York and Bishop William Lori of Connecticut are a cavalry of women, a new sisterhood that challenges the feminist establishment that has always appeared preoccupied with abortion. There are vocal women leading the opposition to the mandate, but they're often ignored by the left because we don't pass their ideological test. We include Sen. Kelly Ayotte, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, former ambassador and Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon, and radio talk-show host Laura Ingraham, along with doctors, lawyers, religious sisters and fresh young faces at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and elsewhere.

When you start to realize this, when you hear these women on social media and C-SPAN, you begin to realize that the "women's health" talk is really just a cynical political ploy to divide Americans in an election year.

Kathryn Lopez

Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor of National Review Online, writes a weekly column of conservative political and social commentary for Newspaper Enterprise Association.