Molly Redden

Molly Redden

Reporter

Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

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Molly Redden is a reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau. Previously, she worked for The New Republic, covering energy and the environment and politics, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. Her work has also appeared in Salon, Washington City Paper, and Slate. In her free time, she enjoys cooking and watching too much television. She tweets at @mtredden.

Millions of Women Now Pay Nothing for Birth Control. Thanks Obamacare!

| Wed Dec. 11, 2013 1:25 PM EST

The percentage of privately insured women who didn't pay a dime for birth control pills almost tripled this year, rising from 15 percent in 2012 to 40 percent in 2013. That's according to a new study from the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that backs abortion rights. The study, which was published in the journal Contraception, examined the effects of an Affordable Care Act rule requiring private insurers to cover contraceptive products and counseling with no co-pay.

This same rule has come under sustained, delirious assault by Republicans who paint it as an attack on employers' religious beliefs. During the debt ceiling crisis this fall, some House Republicans were willing to let the government default if the final financial deal did not include a "conscience clause" allowing employers to sidestep the mandate if it violated their religious beliefs. (The Obama administration has already exempted a narrowly defined set of religious institutions.)

That battle will come to a head this spring, when the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. Citing their Christian beliefs, owners of the Hobby Lobby chain of craft stores are refusing to provide their female employees with insurance that covers contraceptive services. A decision in favor of Hobby Lobby could blow a hole in the contraception mandate, allowing any private employer to withold birth control coverage simply by citing their religious beliefs.

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Oops: Republican Obamacare Amendment Expanded Abortion Access for GOP Staffers

| Mon Dec. 9, 2013 7:00 AM EST

"Crap."

Nearly 9 in 10 health care plans that members of Congress and their staff must choose from include abortion coverage, a fact that has Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) and right-wing media outlets raising hell.

But the only reason that congressional staffers have to choose from these plans at all is because a Republican amendment to Obamacare requires it. Thanks to this amendment, congressional staffers, who once had to pay for abortions out of pocket, can now buy insurance that covers abortions.

The bizarre story of how a conservative, anti-abortion Republican ended up expanding abortion access for congressional staff dates back to the initial fight over the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Here's how it happened: The Obamacare exchanges were expressly designed to provide insurance to the uninsured, so congressional staffers—who, like most Americans, already had insurance—were initially excluded. Republicans claimed that this amounted to Democrats "exempting" themselves and their staff from Obamacare, and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) introduced an amendment that would force members of Congress and their staff to use the exchanges. Grassley's proposal was intended to embarrass Democrats. But Democrats called Grassley's bluff, and the law passed with his amendment.

But Grassley's measure forced congressional staff out of the Federal Health Benefits Program, which federal law prohibited from offering any abortion coverage. Under the the federal plan, any congressional employee who wanted an abortion had to pay for it out of pocket. Now that they're on the Obamacare exchanges, though, congressional employees will only pay out of pocket for abortion insurance. They'll be able to choose any of the 112 plans available via Washington, DC's health care exchange, only 9 of which do not cover abortion.

Catholic Bishops Won't Comment on Rush Limbaugh's Pope-Bashing

| Thu Dec. 5, 2013 3:33 PM EST

Rush Limbaugh has incensed Catholic groups by attacking Pope Francis's blueprint for a more inclusive, social justice-oriented Catholic Church as "pure Marxism" and saying, "somebody has either written this for [the Pope] or gotten to him."

But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the top American leaders of the Catholic church, isn't commenting on the radio host's attacks. "We don't follow Rush Limbaugh," says Mary Ann Walsh, USCCB's media relations director. Annmarie Sanders, a spokeswoman for the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, also declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Limbaugh has continued to bash the Pope, saying Wednesday that "the pope is ripping American"—and, that thanks to the pope's exhortations on poverty and powerful financial institutions, "Obama's having an orgasm."

Nuns' Group Responds After Rush Limbaugh Says Pope Spouts "Pure Marxism"

| Wed Dec. 4, 2013 12:38 PM EST

In late November, when Pope Francis promised to remake the Catholic Church as a decentralized institution that would agitate against the economic injustices of capitalism, Rush Limbaugh was quick with an explanation: "Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him."

Limbaugh's remarks—in which he also assailed the Pope's agenda as being "pure Marxism"—have drawn the ire of many Catholics, and one group, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, is already calling for the radio host to apologize.

On Wednesday, Donna Quinn, who coordinates the National Coalition of American Nuns, a liberal activist group of several thousand nuns, joined the Catholics denouncing Limbaugh's comments.

"Men and women who are educated and those who have street smarts see right thorough those kind of statements," she says. (Quinn, who is well-known for her support of gay marriage and reproductive rights, notes that she is a big supporter of Sandra Fluke, the women's rights activist who gained national notoriety when Limbaugh called her a "slut" and "prostitute" on his program.)

Quinn adds that although she does not count herself among those "smitten" with Pope Francis—"enough of the words," she says, "we want to see some action"—she is troubled by Limbaugh's callousness toward the people about whom Pope Francis was speaking. "In these dire times…those are the people that it would behoove Rush to take a look at. To see what's best, not for his program or for his rowdy statements, but rather for the people of God."

PETA's Offensive Solution to the Plan B Weight-Limit Crisis

| Mon Dec. 2, 2013 4:29 PM EST

PETA to women: "Try to look more like her."

Update (12/2/2013): John Seager, the president of Population Connection, has responded to PETA's campaign in an email: "It would be unfortunate if the importance of access to and consistent use of modern contraception gets lost in some wide-ranging discussion about everything under the sun, including the many positive benefits of a vegan diet."

Last week, when Mother Jones reported that some popular emergency contraceptive pills may not work in women weighing more than 176 pounds, many reporters and commentators immediately interpreted this as bad news for women who are "fat" or "obese."

And it wasn't just Rush Limbaugh making that assumption. Annie-Rose Strasser at ThinkProgress did the yeoman's work of rounding up media coverage that said the news affected "overweight" or "obese" women and found that CNN, NPR, The Guardian, and The Examiner were all offenders.

Reporters are wrong to suggest that the limits of Plan B and similar emergency contraceptives affect only women who are overweight. The CEO of HRA Pharma, a French company that is changing the labels on its emergency contraceptive pills to warn women of weight limits, told Mother Jones that the pill's efficacy is linked to weight—not body mass index, an obesity measure. In other words, the weight limit would equally affect a tall woman whose weight is in what doctors consider a healthy range and a shorter, overweight woman. Amanda Marcotte points out at RH Reality Check that a six-foot-plus woman who weighs 176 pounds will fall far short of fitting the medical definition of "obese."

Yet on Monday, a major advocacy group seized on the notion that women who can't effectively use Plan B are simply too fat. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a campaign Monday, pegged to Mother Jones's reporting, that encourages women to lose weight with vegan diets and "regain control over their reproductive lives." In a press release, PETA announced that the program, "Plan V" will promote a vegan diet as a "Plan B lifeline for overweight women."

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