Shutdown Looming, Republicans Spent the Weekend Trying to Cut off Your Contraception Access

What Women Really Think
Sept. 30 2013 12:20 PM

Shutdown Looming, Republicans Spent the Weekend Trying to Cut off Your Contraception Access

U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) speaks during the Exempt America from Obamacare rally on Capitol Hill. The "conscience clause" is his baby.

Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Republicans are conducting one of their semi-regular hostage crises, using the threat of a government shutdown in an attempt to stall Obamacare with the long-term hopes of killing it before the voters realize they like it. What's their latest move? Republicans spent the weekend amending their "delay Obamacare" spending bill with a "conscience clause" to help employers substitute their conscience for your own when determining your contraception choices. The amendment creates a broad one-year exemption to a part of Obamacare that's already gone into effect, which is the requirement that insurance plans offer certain kinds of preventive services, including contraception, without a co-pay. This amendment to the spending bill would allow your employer to cite religious or "moral" grounds to deny you the right to use your plan as you see fit. 

In addition to being catnip for the GOP's base, the amendment, pushed by Kansas Rep. Tim Huelskamp, is clearly designed to cut off large numbers of women from getting their contraception benefits, but it could be used to terminate any of the laundry list of women's preventive services that are required by law to be offered co-pay-free. The amendment reflects an extremely creepy view of the employer-employee relationship, in which apparently your boss' beliefs and views are supposed to be in the mix when you're making personal decisions about how you have sex and procreate. 


This is not the first time Republicans have tried to hold our government and economy hostage with their misogynist obsessions—in a 2011 spending bill, the GOP threatened  to cut off family planning subsidies for places like Planned Parenthood. The good news is that, just as in 2011, there's very little chance of this “conscience clause” becoming law. Even if Democrats were willing to accept the clause in order to avoid a government shutdown, the fact that the larger bill is about killing Obamacare means there's little chance of it getting through the Senate, much less past the president. Barring some unforeseen last minute deal, the shutdown is happening. And right now, the larger threat to the contraception benefit—and more generally, to your right to federal protections that keep your boss out of your private business—comes from the Supreme Court

Read the rest of Slate’s coverage of the government shutdown.

Amanda Marcotte is a Brooklyn-based writer and DoubleX contributor. She also writes regularly for the Daily Beast, AlterNet, and USA Today. Follow her on Twitter.


War Stories

The Right Target

Why Obama’s airstrikes against ISIS may be more effective than people expect.

The One National Holiday Republicans Hope You Forget

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

Should You Recline Your Seat? Two Economists Weigh In.


It Is Very, Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Or, why it is very, very stupid to compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice.

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?

Use Facebook to Reconnect With Old Friends, Share Photos, and Serve People With Legal Papers

  News & Politics
Sept. 23 2014 6:40 PM Coalition of the Presentable Don’t believe the official version. Meet America’s real allies in the fight against ISIS.
Sept. 23 2014 2:08 PM Home Depot’s Former Lead Security Engineer Had a Legacy of Sabotage
Sept. 23 2014 1:57 PM Would a Second Sarkozy Presidency End Marriage Equality in France?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 2:32 PM Politico Asks: Why Is Gabby Giffords So “Ruthless” on Gun Control?
  Slate Plus
Political Gabfest
Sept. 23 2014 3:04 PM Chicago Gabfest How to get your tickets before anyone else.
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 4:45 PM Why Is Autumn the Only Season With Two Names?
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 5:36 PM This Climate Change Poem Moved World Leaders to Tears Today
  Health & Science
Sept. 23 2014 4:33 PM Who Deserves Those 4 Inches of Airplane Seat Space? An investigation into the economics of reclining.
Sports Nut
Sept. 23 2014 7:27 PM You’re Fired, Roger Goodell If the commissioner gets the ax, the NFL would still need a better justice system. What would that look like?