When Mars turned retrograde at 23 Virgo in late January, it was a no-brainer that contention might arise around issues of health or work, both Virgoan areas of concentration. What was less obvious was Mars’ exact square to TNO Quaoar at 23 Sagittarius, a minor planet from the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune which resonates strongly to reproductive issues. The current dual brouhahas over the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation pulling its funding from Planned Parenthood, and the backlash over the new HHS regulations mandating employer coverage of contraceptive services, would seem to be a direct result of this contact.
Quaoar is named for a Native American creator deity, an inchoate, formless, gender-less energy which danced the universe into being, bringing forth life from nothing [see my article “Quaoar and Reproduction” in the August 2003 issue of Daykeeper Journal for a full analysis of this connection].
Its mythic roots certainly support a connection with reproduction, as does the Sabian Symbol for its 2002 discovery degree, 11 Sagittarius. Dane Rudhyar defines this degree as “Annunciation,” which in Christian mythology is the moment when the Angel Gabriel first informs the Virgin Mary of her impending blessed event. This connection is particularly apt in light of the controversy surrounding HHS’ requirement that Catholic institutions provide employee healthcare coverage which includes sterilization and “preventive services” such as contraceptives and early-term or “day after” abortifacient drugs, all of which the Catholic Church condemns on moral grounds.
Those regulations were made public on January 20, 2012, just three days before Mars’ station exactly squared Quaoar. It took awhile for the story to get out and opposition to grow, but by early February the issue had become yet another political football, with folks on the right, for once, decrying the new regulations as a violation of separation of church and state, and the left trying to characterize it as a fairness issue, providing vital health services to employees who may not share their employer’s moral squeamishness on reproductive issues.
The administration seemed to be caught unawares by the hornet’s nest it had aroused, and weakly pointed to a provision granting a two-year delay in the regulation’s implementation to allow for some compromise to be forged. The Pentagon backed down after initially threatening to refuse to read a circular letter from Catholic bishops to the troops, which condemned the government’s policy, and allowed chaplains to distribute the letter at their services.
The blending of health and work issues in employment-based insurance is certainly fertile ground for Virgo, and Mars provided the contentious, aggressive response, but it was Quaoar that chose the specific battlefield for the clash, that of reproductive rights. Other celestial factors combined to further agitate the situation. TNO Eris, named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord, lies inconjunct to Mars and trine Quaoar from 21 Aries, lending its particular accent on fractious, divisive discourse, delighting in stirring up animosity and pitting one faction against another.
And Mars is also part of a Grand Trine at the time of its station, including an exact trine to Mercury at 23 Capricorn and a trine to TNO Sedna at 22 Taurus. Mercury, of course, makes for big news and guarantees media involvement, as well as governing regulatory matters in general, while Sedna, named for an Inuit goddess who dwells in the deepest, most inaccessible part of the Arctic Ocean, represents isolation.
The administration was certainly taken by surprise with the depth and intensity of the opposition to its ruling, and seemed isolated by the backlash, with its own supporters slow to frame arguments in favor. The controversy continues, as the White House searches for a compromise that will enable it to save face while not jettisoning hundreds of thousands of white working class Catholic votes in close battleground states come November, which could well mean the difference between victory and defeat.
But the issue of isolation and retreat can be most clearly seen in the other contemporaneous fracas, that involving Susan G. Komen for the Cure pulling its Planned Parenthood funding. There was no delay in negative response when this move was announced on January 31, just ten days after the Mars station.
The Internet and the airwaves immediately lit up with arguments providing more heat than light, typical of Mars when linked with Mercury. Rational discussion suffers under this combination, and aggressive, in-your-face verbal attack becomes the rule. The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation initially tried to downplay the defunding by stating that it had nothing to do with Planned Parenthood’s controversial abortion services, but rather was due to the fact that they were under investigation by Congress, a circumstance which commonly makes groups ineligible for Komen’s funding.
But that argument fell flat, coming full circle when it was revealed that the congressional inquiry is itself based on partisan conservative opposition to Planned Parenthood’s abortion services. Susan G. Komen for the Cure found itself isolated by both camps—the left decried its politicized decision-making processes and the right was aghast to learn that they had ever funded Planned Parenthood at all. (Their donations actually go to provide mammography services and referral. Despite the fact that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s financial resources are channeled into abortion services, the Right has effectively demonized them as abortion mills.)
And the pot kept stirring when it was disclosed that Karen Handel, Komen’s senior VP for policy, who had been instrumental in making the decision to cut Planned Parenthood’s funding, had already called for a ban on all federal allocations to Planned Parenthood during her failed 2010 bid for Georgia governor.
By February 3, just three days after the controversy broke, Susan G. Komen for the Cure reversed itself and restored Planned Parenthood’s funding. On the 7th, Karen Handel resigned. The incident was a financial bonanza for Planned Parenthood, which received more than $3 million in donations over the three-day period where their funding was revoked, more than six times the amount that Komen’s decision had put at risk.
The controversy once again displayed the combination of Mars/contention with Quaoar/reproductive issues, all played out against the backdrop of Virgo’s focus on healthcare and Sagittarius’ emphasis on ideology. Mars will not return to this degree and move past the issues it evoked at its station retrograde until late June—stay tuned for more fireworks!