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Senate Tables Blunt Bill on Women’s Healthcare

Thursday, March 01, 2012

After more than a day of intense scuttle over the contraception debate, the Senate defeated a bill that would govern women’s access to birth control and other preventive health care services. Lawmakers voted 51-48 to table the bill. 

The "Respect for Rights of Conscience Act,” also called the Blunt Amendment for its sponsor Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO.), would allow employers and insurance companies to exempt from coverage any service that violates their religious beliefs.

Sen. Blunt introduced the amendment in response to the Obama administration’s compromise on the Affordable Care Act, calling it an “accounting gimmick,” and framed the issue as a debate over religious liberty, not women’s health care.  The debate was kicked off in February when the Obama administration announced a rule that would require health insurance plans to cover contraceptives free of charge – even for women who worked at religious institutions – making it fodder for the 2012 GOP campaign field.

While the Blunt amendment had the support of host of conservatives, including religious leaders from the American Catholic Church, and several Republican senators in heated campaigns, like Sen. Scott Brown (R-Ma.), the party remained divided on the bill. 

Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME), who announced her decision not to seek reelection on Wednesday, told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell while she does support a conscience clause, she opposed the amendment.

“I think with respect to the Blunt amendment, I think it’s much broader than I could support.  I think we should focus on the issue of contraceptives and whether or not it should be included in a health insurance plan, and what requirements there should be.  And I’ve supported the Marco Rubio approach in that regard,” said Snowe 

Not surprisingly, both of NewYork’s Senators voiced full-throated opposition to the amendment on the Senate floor Wednesday. Sen. Charles Schumer said the measure would force women to surrender control of their own health decisions to their bosses.

“Let’s admit what this debate is really and what Republicans really want to take away from American women. It is contraception,” said Schumer.

Schumer’s opposition was echoed by New York’s junior Senator, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who launched the One Million Strong for Women campaign in the wake of the Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood. Gillibrand has called the amendment the latest attack on women’s health and concerns about the impact the bill could have on access to other preventative services, from diabetes screening to vaccination coverage.

While he doesn’t have a vote on the matter, presidential candidate Mitt Romeny weighed in on the issue in an interview with a local television network. Ohio News Network reporter Jim Heath tweeted that presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he doesn’t support the Senate bill. 

But the Romney campaign moved quickly to clarify.  In a statement sent to The Hill, campaign spokeswomen Andrea Saul said, “Regarding the Blunt bill, the way the question was asked was confusing. Governor Romney supports the Blunt Bill because he believes in a conscience exemption in health care for religious institutions and people of faith.”

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Comments [3]

oldwhitefemdem from Virginia

The Blunt-Rubio amendment, Beside gutting women's health coverage, and the contrived argument that the Affordable HealthCare Act infringes on religious freedom, real reason for the amendment was to gut the act. The Blunt-Rubio amendment states that anyone who has a moral objection to aspects of the insurance coverage can refuse to insure employees. So, if a Jehovah's Witness owns the company, or is in management of that company, or on the board of that company, they can object to blood transfusions to save lives, to save a child with leukemia, or a woman with aplastic anemia. Additionally, Witnesses oppose organ transplants - and therefore organ harvesting - so no more of that. Those restrictions will save lots of money, indeed.

Mar. 05 2012 05:23 AM

You Could Be A Religious, A Political, or A Women’s Health Leader; or You Could Be Smart
The Senate voted today on an amendment to the transportation funding bill to allow employers with a religious or moral objection to a health care procedure the right to be exempted from having to provide that coverage (that is, pay for a health care program providing that benefit). Certainly a transportation funding bill is the appropriate place for such a legislative initiative, but obviously health care is provided via a form of transportation. But that his not the actual problem in which the current political, religious, social and health care debate is mired. The real problem is that the individuals who have attained their respective (or jointly held) positions of authority as religious leaders, elected political office holders, or experts on health care or social values are all obviously unqualified for those positions.
In the case of the religious advocates who are ranting about the threat to their religious freedoms, they appear to be stuck on their view that the rights and values of anyone who works for them fall under their moral judgment. Christian leaders are very clear on their objection to particular health care practices, and that they should not be required to pay for something they are absolutely against. But they are extending their right to choose their own health care needs from being required to provide their employees with the exact same right. Not one religious person is required to pay for any procedure or treatment that they do not specifically want of their own accord. So where is the infringement on their rights? Besides their Christian teachings instruct them to not place their judgment on another’s right of conscience.
Political leaders are on one side or the other of this debate, but their failing is not purely along a religious, moral or societal line. After who considers politicians as religious, moral or possessing a societal value? But none the less, they advocate for one constituency or another who are interested in imposing their views upon everyone else. Not one politician on either side of this issue has pointed out the failure of their peers to see a legislative solution to the debate that would satisfy both the religious freedom and the individual rights problems that the less informed have latched onto as a point of contention. It is quite easy to protect religious freedoms, insure individual rights to health care, and keep the government from creating another divisive policy and increase the efforts of the political parties from doing more damage to American values.
The health care experts, providers and insurance industry has also failed to show the religious communities or the political groups the errors of their ways. They have either joined one side of the debate or the other, or ...

The remaining can be read at now4yourconsideration a blogspot poster.

Mar. 02 2012 12:22 AM
Sara from Florida

I have Fibroid Tumors on my ovary's, If i didn't help from my insurance to pay for my Birth control i would be in horrible pain all the time, This blunt bill isn't just about sex, its about women's health every where.
Why would the government want me to be in pain because i cant afford my medicine?

Mar. 01 2012 07:49 PM

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