Wednesday was a day to celebrate for pro-choice supporters. The Obama Affordable Care Act HHS mandates went into effect, which greatly expands insurance coverage for a variety of women's health issues. Chief among those provisions is one that forces insurance companies and employers to offer birth control for free.
You probably remember the debate over the birth control aspect of the mandate. It turned into a firestorm of attacks from both sides. For the most part that debate fizzled and as POLITICO recently reported, despite the promise of GOP politicians to pass legislation to end the mandate, there is no real progress to get that moving.
The next stage is the courts. Roughly two dozens lawsuits have been filed across the country by employers who feel their constiutional rights are being violated. Those lawsuits are coming from everywhere, but not from Virginia. In fact, even though Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli regularly finds himself in a courtroom on issues like these, at this point he has made no move to prevent the mandate from being implemented.
But that didn't stop the protests. A small group of activists showed up on the sidewalk under Cuccinelli's Richmond office Wednesday to let them know they like the mandate and that he shouldn't mess with it. Just in case. Cuccinelli has become an easy target and with plans to run for governor, abortion rights groups will stop at nothing to draw him into a controversy.
Even the ones he has no involvement with.
I have more on the debate over the mandate. Here is my story from NBC12:
A major aspect of the Affordable Care Act went into effect today. Woman is now guaranteed free coverage of a variety of health care options without having to pay a co-pay.
The move is not without controversy, especially from religious groups who oppose a mandate requiring that birth control be provided free of charge.
It is a battle that they have largely won.
The start of increased access to birth control is the new reality in America, but that didn't stop these abortion rights activists from holding a celebratory "protest" to mark the occasion.
"Women's rights it should not be an issue any more and this needs to be put to rest," said Abby Guskind, who was on hand for the protest.
Despite winning a battle that ushers in a new era in women's health care, pro-choice protestors are worried about the controversy that surrounded this aspect of the Obama Administration's sweeping health care reform.
Chris Freund of the conservative Family Foundation believes they should be.
"Faith based businesses and non profits are being forced to violate their conscience," argued Freund.
Freund represents religious groups and average citizens who are opposed to contraception. He claims no one is working to outlaw birth control. Instead they believe the government shouldn't be forcing people to provide it to others for free.
"Contraception is readily available is inexpensive,” he said. “I don't think there was anything in the way of access before."
That may be the key point of contention. It is not access that is up for debate, but the level of that access. The mandate's defenders claim the policy helps far more people than it offends.
read and see the full story on NBC12.com