Kathryn Lopez

Hillary Clinton warns that her political opponents "want to control how [women] act," and "even want to control the decisions we make about our own health and bodies." That's, of course, not what Rick Santorum -- to take one of the most prominent targets of the left's scorn -- wants to do. He might talk about the downsides of contraception in a far-reaching web interview, he might even do it when prompted on center stage, but he's not going to issue mandates to enforce his views. Ironically, it's only this White House that is demonstrating the heavy-handed mandating of mores, colliding with the freedom of conscience of Americans who might choose to live differently.

As the president accuses others of using religion as a bludgeon, he ought to reflect on the division he's created. And those who oppose the mandate ought to be as relentless as those waving a "war on women" banner in defense of it. The White House is counting on us to be demure, as they and their allies scare single women into voting Democrat in the November elections. Don't be. We're in a fight for a foundational principle, a first freedom, and the stakes are too high to give in to the cynical ploy that we're engaging in a "war on women."

This is a not a war on women, and it shouldn't become a war on men, either. This isn't a battle of the sexes, it's a fight for freedom as we've known it -- for the conscience rights we've known before this administration changed them with the stroke of a bureaucratic pen. And if we have a fighting chance to preserve the liberty we've enjoyed here as a beacon for those who suffer under real oppression, we had better get out of the cave that mandate supporters hoped we'd hide in and be clear and confident in what were preserving, together, for women AND men -- no matter what their faith.

Kathryn Lopez

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