Sigh. They’re at it again. Or perhaps I should say still. This time it’s Rep. Denny Rehberg, a candidate for the Montana Senate seat of Jon Tester. On Tuesday, Rehberg released his House Appropriations subcommittee’s completed work on the labor, health and education budget for the 2013 fiscal year.
Amid the sharp spending cuts in the proposed legislation are some things we’ve heard before: no money for Planned Parenthood, an end to funding for family planning prescribed for Title X, and a provision to allow employers to deny birth control coverage to women workers under the Affordable Care Act. One increase in spending is included: extra money for abstinence-only “sex education.”
If you’re wondering whether they will ever give up on this theme, the answer is no. Why would they with paeans like this flying their way from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?
Cardinal DiNardo expressed gratitude to subcommittee chairman Representative Denny Rehberg (R-MT) for his leadership in sponsoring the conscience provisions when he introduced this bill, adding, “The Catholic community and many others concerned about religious freedom will work hard to ensure that these protections are enacted into law.”
The bill is likely to suffer a similar fate as the Blunt Amendment. That proposal, by Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, would also have allowed employers to deny reproductive health-care coverage to women. The Senate shot it down. But defeats don’t stop Republicans. They energize them to try over again and again until they wear down the opposition or catch it on an off-day.
“It is outrageous that the majority continues to undercut women’s health with attacks on Planned Parenthood and Title X and by allowing health care providers to deny women critical services,” Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), a member of the labor and health subcommittee, said. “This bill is dead on arrival — it is clear the majority would rather play political games than legislate responsibly.”
At the Planned Parenthood Federation, president Cecile Richards stated:
“This budget proposal is badly out of touch with the needs of American women and families. Chairman Denny Rehberg and the House Republican leadership clearly don’t think that their constituents care about their access to health care. They could not be more wrong,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Eliminating vital preventive programs like the national family planning program and attacking women’s health providers will mean that millions of women would lose access to basic, preventive health services, and those are economic issues for millions of families.”
Absolutely right. They could not be more wrong.
But, after all this time, it’s pretty clear they don’t care what happens to the women that their policies would injure out of malign neglect. Otherwise they would stop acting the way they do. They would stop pretending that cutting off Planned Parenthood won’t harm low-income women by reducing their health care options. They would stop pretending that abstinence-only programs work. They would stop pretending that they aren’t proposing to give employers carte blanche to deny coverage regardless of their actual moral views. Pretending, however, is their foremost skill. Nobody ever wants to give that up.