Jennifer C. Braceras | Boston Herald | Monday, March 26, 2012 | Op-Ed |

Over the past several months, Democrats have launched a vicious smear campaign against Republicans — particularly against Republican men.

If you’ve even been partially awake, you have no doubt heard the liberal histrionics about the so-called “GOP War on Women.”

MoveOn.org claims that “Republicans are on a rampage.” An ad put out by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee accuses Republicans of waging “an assault on women’s health and freedom.” The feminist group Emily’s List claims that Republicans have launched a modern day “witch hunt.”

The GOP’s alleged objective? Banning birth control and forcing women to bear children against their will, of course!

Problem is, the so-called “war on women” is a lie, and the American people know it.

Let’s be clear: In the year 2012, nobody wants to ban birth control.

And nobody wants to see employers meddling in the personal health care choices of their employees.

The question at the heart of the U.S. Health and Human Services mandate debate is not whether contraception is permissible — it’s who must pay for it.

Republicans believe that the government should not intrude into every aspect of our lives. The federal government should not dictate the terms of employee benefits. And it certainly should not force religiously-affiliated institutions (such as Catholic hospitals or religious schools) to pay for benefits that such institutions find morally objectionable.

The Obama administration and its feminist allies, on the other hand, believe that government should guarantee all women free and unfettered access to contraception. And they believe that government does a good thing when it dictates that employers foot the bill.

Americans understand the distinction. And despite feminist shrieking that opposition to the mandate constitutes a “war on women,” a significant majority of Americans don’t see it that way.

According to a recent CBS/New York Times [NYT] poll, Americans reject (51 percent to 40 percent) the notion that government should be able to force any employer to cover birth control if that employer has moral objections to doing so.

When it comes to religiously-affiliated institutions, that 11-point margin increases to a staggering 21 percent. Some 57 percent of Americans (and 53 percent of women!) favor allowing such institutions to opt out of the government’s contraception mandate; only 36 percent do not.

But what of the argument articulated by Sandra Fluke that the cost of birth control is crippling even to 30-year-old law students?

Women who use birth control know full well that contraception is inexpensive and easily accessible. (About $10 for a month’s supply of birth control pills at Walmart — probably a fraction of the what Fluke spends each month at Starbucks. But perhaps Fluke would like someone else to pay for her lattes too!).

Is it any wonder, then, that in the weeks since Democrats launched their “war on women” smear campaign, female support for President Barack Obama has dropped a full 12 percentage points?

Perhaps we women aren’t quite as dumb as the Democrats think we are.

The entire manufactured controversy is, of course, a desperate attempt to divert attention away from the lagging economy and our fragile national security.

But it will fail.

The Democratic attempt to caricature Republicans as unenlightened Neanderthals bent on subordinating women may fire up the hard-core liberal base. But it will turn off independent women who are less concerned with the so-called “right” to free birth control than they are with jobs, gas prices, the economy and the size of the debt we are passing on to our children.