See all our coverage of Kathleen Sebelius’ 2011 Emergency Contraception Reversal here.
President Obama visited Osawotamie, KS on Tuesday and gave a speech about the economy. His speech focused on fair play, fair shares and fair shots for all citizens. I went to Osawotamie to ask the President to extend that message of fairness to the women of the nation, regardless of the religious affiliation of their employer. I went to the speech to represent the interests of a coalition consisting of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, MoveOn.org and Kansas NOW. The following is from our press release…
President Obama has continually spoken out about his administration’s commitment to women and women have supported the President in many of his initiatives, including the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
We stand united in Kansas, encouraging the President to honor his commitment to all women by standing in firm opposition to the expansion of the conscience clause of the birth control mandate within the Affordable Care Act.
Peter Brownlie, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said, “President Obama should reject efforts to take away the birth control coverage benefit from millions of Americans who work at religiously-affiliated hospitals, universities, schools, or organizations. These are nurses, teachers, janitors, and other workers who should not be discriminated against and denied a benefit that the vast majority of Americans will receive.”
Kari Ann Rinker, State Coordinator of Kansas NOW stated, “We ask the President to stand up to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other opponents of contraception and just say no to the continued bullying of corporate religious interests, whose demands run counter to the individual conscience of the millions of women who could potentially be effected by this expansion. The President’s vague answers and lack of official statement on this subject is disconcerting.”
I went to the event to hand out small flyers with the White House comment line number and information about the President’s pending decision. I expected to find broad support and encouragement from a largely Democratic Party crowd anxiously anticipating entry into the President’s speech. Instead, my group was met with hostility. Only some of the people were supportive of our message. One man waiting in line said to me, “If your mom had used birth control, you wouldn’t be here!” I asked him if he was opposed to birth control…just to clarify his position and, yes…he confirmed that he was.
I returned home somewhat dumbfounded. It was hard for me to believe that my “people,” Kansas Democrats, waiting to see President Barack Obama, were opposed to a message about fairness in accessing birth control for women. Then it hit me… this is Kansas, the land where Democrats aren’t really Democrats. It is a land where the “Bart Stupak” type of Democrat is commonly encountered. It is a land where conservative Republicans meet gay rights and women’s rights with a fierce hatred. It is a land where Democrats view these same issues as an inconvenience, instead of important to a much-needed and appreciated base of supporters.
We only were able to attempt our information distribution for a short time before being kicked off the grounds entirely by the police. We were even featured in an article about Presidential “protestors.” It’s not every day that Kansas NOW is lumped in with Fred Phelps and The Kansas Republican Party, that’s for sure.
Today’s news about our own Kathleen Sebelius’ overruling the FDA on EC for youth in need of pregnancy prevention is cause for a second continuous day for disappointment. This act serves as one more nail in the women’s rights coffin…jointly constructed by the Republican AND Democratic Party. As a lifelong, 3rd generation Democrat, I feel like a red-headed stepchild born of two blond parents, slightly out of place and wondering to whom I really belong.