You have to hand it to Washington Post “On Faith” columnist Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite. She is more predictable than a sub-.500 record for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
She took to the Interwebs to echo various congress critters in decrying the patent sexism of a hearing held Thursday by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The subject was the mandate imposed by the Department of Health and Human Services on religious organizations, requiring them to cover contraception and abortifacients in their health insurance plans. The hearing focused on the religious liberty question, and Thistlethwaite joined the chorus asking, “where are the women?”
Ranking committee member Elijah Cummings (D-MD) asked the chairman to include a female witness. His request was denied. The reason given was that the hearing wasn’t about “birth control,” it was about “freedom of religion and conscience.”
So that’s the core question: Don’t women have consciences? Don’t women have religious freedom too?
For once, she’s absolutely right. There should have been women at this hearing. Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School and Jean Bethke van Elshtain of the University of Chicago would have been excellent witnesses in favor of the religious freedom of women.
And if you think that would have satisfied either Cummings or Thistlethwaite, I’ve got a pair of 2012 Pirates World Series tickets I’d like to sell you.
“What I want to know is: Where are the women?” asked Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) of the committee chairman before walking out.
I’d like to know that, too. I’d also like to know where were the gays? They have religious freedom, too, don’t they? Where were the native Hawaiians? Isn’t it important to protect their First Amendment rights? How about American Indians, whose religious liberty was trashed by the Supreme Court in Employment Division v. Smith, the infamous peyote case that was so far off base that Congress passed the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (unanimously in the House, 97-3 in the Senate) to overturn it? Shouldn’t there have been AmerInds there?
But of course Thistlethwaite and her buddies don’t mention anyone other interest group but women, for the obvious reason that they had no interest in the religious liberty aspect of the issue, and in fact think it’s a red herring being trotted out to justify the evil plot to keep women barefoot and pregnant.
The only way Thistlethwaite would have been happy is if women were trooped into the hearing to make as much of a mockery of it as the Democratic representatives did, by turning the issue from religious liberty to contraception. She says as much at the outset of her column:
Women’s religious freedom and freedom of conscience were just violated by a congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA). Rep. Issa held a hearing to consider insurance coverage for contraception and did not allow a single woman to testify in support of the benefit. I support contraceptive coverage by insurers precisely because reproductive responsibility is a core part of my religious beliefs and a way I act on my conscience.
That’s marvelous. Go for it, Suze. Buy all the pills and condoms and IUDs you want. Buy them for all your friends and neighbors, too, if that’s what floats your boat. But don’t expect me, or the Catholic Church, to buy them for you.
There are a couple of truly amazing things about the way people like Thistlethwaite (and NARAL, and Planned Parenthood, and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Emily’s List, etc.) think about abortion and contraception.
One is that they believe that those “rights,” though not explicitly found in the Constitution, trump all others. Thus, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech–all important enough to have been mentioned in the First Amendment–may be trampled at will in order to ensure that no one is ever, under any circumstances, prevented from having total and unfettered access to abortion and birth control. In fact, no one may even be inconvenienced in their access to these two highest of all moral goods.
The other flows naturally enough from the first. Unlike explicit constitutional rights, according to Thistlethwaite and Friends the penumbra and emanation derived rights to abortion and birth control come with a built in guarantee that someone else will pay for them. No one has ever said, for instance, that in order for every person to be able to exercise freedom of the press, every person should be provided with a printing press. The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms does not come with a voucher for a Glock 9mm or the hunting rifle of your choice. Freedom of religion doesn’t mean the government has to build you a church, or that a private company can be compelled to do so. But for Thistlethwaite and Co., it is an abridgment of their religious freedom if someone else doesn’t provide them with the tools of the “reproductive responsibility” trade.
No one–not even those elderly celibates in the funny clothes who run the Catholic Church–is seeking any restrictions whatsoever on the right of Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite and all her lefty female friends to buy as much contraception paraphernalia as their hearts desire. They are asking only that they don’t have to pay for it.
Time to grow up, Susie. Put your big girl panties on and pay for your own birth control. That’s what adults do.
UPDATE: I love the analogy that InstaPundit Glenn Reynolds uses to explain the Thistlethwaite position:
It’s as if we passed a law requiring mosques to sell bacon and then, when people objected, responded by saying ‘What’s wrong with bacon? You’re trying to ban bacon!!!!’ (VIa Mark Steyn.)