The hotly debated issue in Congress today has been the Blunt Amendment, Sen. Roy Blunt's bill that would allow employers to refuse to provide contraception to women if they said doing so violated their "conscience or religious beliefs." The bill was just defeated in the Senate by a vote of 51 to 48. This means things have gone just about perfectly for the Democrats, and for the Obama Administration. Make no bones about it: Women's rights are being played on both sides of the political arena. In a recent article in The New York Times, Jennifer Steinhauer and Helene Cooper pointed out that this fight is one "Democrats are perfectly please to have" -- "with the cameras running and the microphones on," of course.
Obviously, Democrats have been very hopeful that this whole discussion of contraception for women would play in their favor. Republicans, on the other hand, have clung to the idea of religious liberty as their talking point on the issue -- quite possibly losing many of the women who might have otherwise stuck with them, particularly after the various seemingly sexist hiccups that have come from that side. Of course, there's not a straight black-and-white line dividing Democrats and Republicans on the issue; there's a variety of debate, and dissent, within the parties themselves. As the Los Angeles Times' Lisa Mascaro reported, "The 51-48 vote to table the Republican measure showed dissent among the GOP, as several Republican senators said the legislation was too broad for their support." But what voters hear about tends to fall along political lines because those extremes are how each camp hopes to win voters -- and the presentation of those extremes is how the media gets people reading.