As most Americans were busy watching Duke lose to Lehigh and drinking themselves into a stupor on National Pretend You're Irish Day, the Obama administration quietly announced they were formalizing and expanding their conscience-violating contraception mandate. From the official HHS release:
Administration officials also released a final rule governing student health plans. Under the final rule, students will gain the same consumer protections other people with individual market insurance have, like a prohibition on lifetime limits and coverage of preventive services without cost sharing. In the same way that religious colleges and universities will not have to pay, arrange or refer for contraceptive coverage for their employees, they will not have to do so for their students who will get such coverage directly and separately from their insurer.
Not only must all universities now provide insurance plans that cover "free" birth control to their employees, they are also required to do the same for students. Perhaps we should call this latest maneuver 'the Sandra Fluke provision.' Note how Kathleen Sebelius goes out of her way to advance the specious argument that the White House's "accommodation" for religious employers provides a meaningful escape hatch from the policy. It does not. Religious employers and institutions are still forced to pay for insurance packages that must cover birth control at no charge. The US Catholic Bishops aren't fooled by this clumsy attempt at misdirection and remain dead-set against the mandate and its phony religious liberty "protections:"
The nation’s Catholic bishops have again voiced doubts about the Obama administration’s plans to modify a mandate for employers to provide free birth control coverage, vowing to press a new campaign to rally Americans to defend religious freedom...While the bishops called the proposal unveiled by President Obama on Feb. 10 “an unspecified and dubious future ‘accommodation,’” they also stressed that they are willing to “accept any invitation to dialogue” with the White House.
A CBS/New York Times poll published last week showed that a majority of Americans believe religious employers and institutions should be allowed to opt-out of the government's birth control edict:
Despite these decisive numbers, we learned late last week that Democrats aren't about to abandon their manufactured "war on women" storyline, which is an indispensable component of their wedge issue exploitation scheme. Even if they aren't winning the actual argument, liberals sure are raising boatloads of money by terrifying their base into (erroneously) believing that Republicans are intent on rifling through their medicine cabinets, so we're going to have endure this stuff for months to come. The RNC is pushing back with a new web ad turning Democrats' hysterical martial imagery against them:
The "hostile work environment" refreshers via Ron Suskind's book are a nice touch, but my personal favorite moment in the ad is David Axelrod literally gulping for air as he tries to explain away Bill Maher's disgusting attacks on Sarah Palin. Misogyny is "different" coming from a seven-figure Obama donor, you see. Is this double standard beginning to fester into a "Bill Maher problem" for Democrats?
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography