Emily , agreed that the Mikulski amendment seems more like pandering than it does genuine protection of women's health care. That said, the anti-choice reaction to it gives me pause . It's not just that anything that rabid anti-choicers oppose is something that's probably puppies- and rainbows-level good-though that's usually true-but it also serves as a reminder of how little protection basic health care for women has, due to anti-choice lobbying against any health care they feel encourages women to be sexually free.
I can't tell if the Mikulski amendment covers contraception from the first news reports, but it's clear to me that the anti-choice lobby fears that it does. Of course, you have to speak right-wing-nut-ese to see this. The LifeNews article simply expresses concern that the bill will mandate abortion coverage, which is a ridiculous fear on its face. Ridiculous if you assume that by "abortion," LifeNews means abortion-ending a pregnancy through drugs or surgery. But often in anti-choice literature, "abortion" is treated as a catch-all phrase that means both abortion and hormonal contraception, and nonhormonal contraception is considered a form of Abortion Lite, because any kind of fertility control encourages the " abortion/contraception mentality ." For outsiders, equating contraception with abortion is incoherent; for the hardcore anti-choicers, the two are linked so firmly that one can bracket contraception into the general category "abortion" without batting an eyelash.
Reading this article, I suspect that part of the objection to this amendment is the possibility that it will cover hormonal contraception, which hardcore anti-choicers believe causes abortion. (It actually works by surpressing ovulation.) Whether or not that specific hook is true or not is somewhat irrelevant, though. Even if coverage for the pill isn't mandated, there is almost no way that counseling and prescription-writing for the pill won't be under this amendment. That's because the vast majority of gynecologists use the occasion of the pap smear to talk about contraception options and write prescriptions. Which, in the topsy-turvy anti-choice world, is a form of paying for abortion. You have to back-rationalize about 15 steps, but it can be done. And goes a long way to explaining why they're panicking.
And it also explains why we need to have some sort of amendment protecting women's basic cancer screenings, because the relationship between the pap smear and the birth control pill could create trouble for mandated pap-smear coverage down the road. Let's not forget how the Bush administration politicized contraception. If another conservative administration was put in charge, they could easily staff the health care exchange board with belligerent anti-choicers who not only strip women of contraception coverage, but anything related to it, including the pap smear.