Tales from the Trail

Rick Santorum: birth control ruling has nothing to do with women’s rights

Forcing religious organizations to provide contraceptives has nothing to do with women’s rights, Republican presidential contender and vocal Catholic Rick Santorum said on Thursday.

The comment aligned Santorum with a lineup of conservative critics bashing Democratic President Barack Obama’s rule requiring religious institutions — but not churches — to provide health insurance plans that cover birth control.

The rule, announced in January, covers religious-affiliated groups like charities, hospitals and universities. The Catholic Church opposes most methods of birth control and conservatives have painted the rule as an attack on religious freedom from a secular president.

Speaking to CNN’s John King, the former Pennsylvania senator said: “That’s the Church’s money, and forcing them to do something that they think is a grievous moral wrong. How can that be a right of a woman? That has nothing to do with the right of a woman.”

Santorum bills himself as the only true conservative in the field of Republicans vying to win their party’s nomination to challenge Obama in November. He’s backed by evangelical leaders and social conservatives who admire his consistent and at times polemical stances on abortion and gay marriage. He swept nominating contests Minnesota, Missouri and Colorado on Tuesday buoyed by votes from social conservatives.

from FaithWorld:

Stupak now target of all sides in abortion debate

Up until a few days ago Bart Stupak, an unassuming Democratic congressman from Michigan, was a hero among American activists opposed to abortion rights (who refer to themselves as "pro-life"). This was because Stupak had managed to insert strong language in the House of Representatives version of the healthcare bill aimed at preventing any federal tax  funds from being used for abortion.

What a difference a weekend makes. President Barack Obama clinched the votes he needed to win passage for his healthcare overhaul on Sunday by winning over a handful of Democratic abortion rights opponents, led by Stupak, with the pledge of an executive order affirming restrictions on the use of federal funds for the procedure.

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Stupak was suddenly a traitor to the cause, with barbs like "Judas" thrown his way on the blogosphere. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican congressman from Texas,  reportedly yelled "Baby killer!," while Stupak explained why he was finally going to support the bill. Neugebauer was later quoted as saying he was referring to the bill and not Stupak himself, but that is the kind of emotional language one often hears in the shouting matches on this issue.

Has abortion role been overblown in U.S. healthcare debate?

A new poll by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life suggests that concern about federal funding for abortion is very low on the list of factors driving opposition to President Barack Obama’s effort to overhaul America’s healthcare system.

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The results of the poll, released on Thursday, show that just 3 percent of healthcare opponents cited abortion funding as their main reason for opposing congressional healthcare proposals.

The biggest reasons, cited by 27 percent of respondents to an open-ended question about their opposition, were that the overhaul would be too expensive and lead to higher deficits and taxes. Another 27 percent said they did not want government involvement in healthcare.