We Spleen: Congressman Compares Birth Control Coverage to Terrorist Attacks

Years from now, young children are going to be asking, “Where were you on August 1, 2012?” And no, it wasn’t at a Chick-Fil-A.

Forget the day John F. Kennedy was shot, the Iranian hostages were released or Osama bin Laden was killed. Nothing will be more infamous than the first time American women were able to receive no-copay birth control.

At least that’s true for one disgruntled, contraception-fearing congressman.

Yesterday, eight preventive services for women were enacted under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including the contraception mandate, which ensures that birth control and sterilization methods will be covered by health plans without copays or deductibles. While people around the country celebrate this major advancement in women’s health care, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Penn.) bemoaned the destruction of America at a press conference on Capitol Hill:

I know in your mind you can think of times when America was attacked. One is December 7, that’s Pearl Harbor day. The other is September 11, and that’s the day of the terrorist attack. I want you to remember August the 1st, 2012, the attack on our religious freedom. That is a day that will live in infamy, along with those other dates.

That’s right: An affordable birth-control mandate is as reprehensible as bombings and terrorist attacks that claimed thousands of American lives.

Kelly’s statement is not only offensive to families of 9/11 victims and World War II veterans but to every woman in the U.S. And he wasn’t the only one to negate women’s health care. Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-N.Y.)  said at the same press conference:

This is a right that every American should be outraged, outraged about what … [HHS] Secretary [Kathleen] Sibelius has set forth here on August the first. And as Mike said, August the 1st is a day that we as Americans will look at as the largest assault on our First Amendment rights.

Anti-choice and anti-women legislators, along with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have been crying about the violation of their “religious freedom” since the ACA was signed in 2010. After President Obama proposed a compromise earlier this year as a solution—ensuring that a third party, not employers, will offer the contraceptive coverage—the “religious freedom” fight escalated to freedom rallies and the bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom campaign—which went out with a whimper rather than a rallying cry. And as religious freedom lawsuits get dismissed in federal courts around the country, the claim of rights being squelched becomes even more baseless.

So let’s define this “religious freedom” argument for what it truly is: A fight to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive freedom.

Photo of Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) under Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Evelyn McMullen says:

    You, Rep. Mike Kelly, are an idiot to identify the needed reproductive support for women to the national disasters of Dec. 7th and Sept 11. There is no conceivable connection to those tragedies. Do you not see the birth control mandate is welcomed by women and intelligent supportive men. I do not believe you are intelligent.

  2. He’s a idiot, i dont have other words to describe him

  3. There is a long tradition of misogyny in every religion, since men invented religion for their own purpose of domination. All systems of explanation in the name of religion reflect that bias. Any legislation that empowers women is ipso facto a violation of some religious precept, because it threatens men’s hegemony. Hence their current claims of religious rights violations. Too bad for them — women have long earned freedom for their minds, their bodies, and their lives.

  4. Not only an idiot but a dangerous idiot to boot!

    These men who want the power to decide women’s health issues make me want to puke! They oppose abortion (even in the case of incest or rape!) but do NOTHING to prevent unwanted pregnancies! Their answer is just say no to sex and we know how well that works don’t we? The % of young people having sex tells you that we have to help them and all women (and men too!) – we need good sex education, free birth control plus, if we demand that men take responsibility that would be a good thing as well. The GOP attack on Planned Parenthood is a great example of how outrageous the right wing is – this organization saves thousands of lives every year – plus, they provide women with free consoling so that they make the proper decisions regarding when to have children and how to prevent getting pregnant in the first place – one would think that would be a bi-partisan issue if the GOP is as pro-life as they claim!

  5. Shadonna says:

    I agree he is an idiot along with being an insecure, misogynistic, coward. Wow I didn’t know we were in the 60’s again. Just want to say thank you obama for adhering to women’s rights and not allowing ignorant individuals refute what you believe in. This idiot is not going to ruin our moment because women rule!

  6. Mysterious Stranger says:

    I don’t understand. What on earth does contraception legislation have to do with religious freedom?

  7. I don’t understand how having religious freedom should mean controlling other people’s sex lives? If you believe in the Bible, you believe that God gives us free will. It’s not a politician’s, or even a pastor’s job, to get anyone into Heaven…and it certainly is not up to them to decide how and when we should have sex or a baby.

    If you have a personal disinterest in contraceptives for any reason, feel FREE not to use them. And those of us who do choose to use them won’t force you to do otherwise.

    Side note… don’t these guys realize that by banning all birth control means they’ll be limited on what happens in their own bedrooms? Unless they are all married to mindless baby-making machines?

  8. Gwynne Chesher says:

    Who on earth is this woman in 2012 who doesn’t care whether she, her friends and sisters have access to birth control? (Paul Ryan has repeatedly voted for bills in Congress that would limit access to birth control and de-fund family planning programs and make in vitro fertilization illegal.)
    Who is this woman who allows naïve (or worse) men to define the meaning of “rape?”
    Who is this woman who doesn’t mind that, until Obamacare, insurance companies were charging women considerably more for the same policy than a man? (Obamacare stopped insurance companies from that practice.)
    Who is this woman who’s just fine with insurance companies denying coverage because she has a pre-existing condition or because she has been diagnosed with cancer or heart disease?
    Who is this woman who hates that 20.4 million women with private health insurance gained expanded preventive services with no co-pay in 2011, including mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, prenatal care, flu and pneumonia shots and regular well-baby and well-child visits (available now, thanks to Obamacare)?
    Who is this older woman who is angry that 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare received preventive services without co-pays in 2011, including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis, thanks to Obamacare? What tyranny!
    Who is this woman who thinks that it’s just fine that women earn just 70 cents for every dollar that a man makes for the same job? (The first law that President Obama signed into law was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, giving a woman a legal opportunity to earn equal pay for equal work.)
    The Republican Party, and especially this new Tea Party Republican Party, is about their perceived superiority over anyone who is black, female, brown or gay. It’s about billionaires, like the far-right Koch brothers, their PACs and corporations gradually eroding women’s rights, civil rights and our democracy. Don’t let them do it! Vote!

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