Obama has denied requests from religious organizations hoping to withhold insurance coverage of contraception to their employees. Under the Affordable Health Care Act, birth control will be covered as preventive care (finally!), and some religiously-affiliated businesses argued that this violated their conscience. After Obama’s decision, although churches will be exempt from providing this coverage, employees of religious universities and hospitals will soon be able to get their birth control covered regardless of their employer’s beliefs. (Psst, church employees, Planned Parenthood still has affordable birth control if you need it!)
The Republican party had their debate in Florida Thursday night. You know, I tend to get a little lazy about following primaries because I often already have firm opinions about who I’m voting for, but I do think it’s important to know what the candidates are out there saying. When candidates speak, I try to remember that they aren’t necessarily saying what they believe, but what their advisors think voters want to hear, and that allows us a glimpse at the public’s fears and desires. This debate had the super-rich Romney and Gingrich defending their controversial financial investments while also asserting that being rich just means that you work hard, and arguments over health-care reform where the focus of an attack on Romney’s Massachessets’ health care plan was that it too closely resembled Obama’s. There is a lot to unpack there, but I think my favorite part was Gingrich and Romney arguing over who is the most pro-immigrant; I was surprised to find that being too harsh on immigration was supposed to be a bad thing in the Republican party, although the old chestnut about immigrants stealing our jobs was trotted out, as usual. Did any of you watch the primary, and what did you think?
And, in your What-On-Earth news of the day, a Senator in Oklahoma has proposed a bill to ban the use of aborted human fetuses in products or food. Some questions immediately come to mind, such as: What? Why? Isn’t that…already illegal because of state infection control and biological material disposal regulations? (Yes, by the way). But it’s real. According to Senator Shortey who proposed the bill, its aim is actually to prevent use of stem cells in food products, which he states some companies have used to produce certain flavors. However, the actual language of the law states “no person or entity shall manufacture or knowingly sell food or any other product intended for human consumption which contains aborted human fetuses in the ingredients or which used aborted human fetuses in the research or development in any of the ingredients.” I’m not sure Senator Shortey is too clear on the concept of stem cell research and how it works, but I’m interested to see how the rest of the Oklahoma government responds to his proposal.