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March 1, 2012

Senate Rejects Conscience Clause Change to Contraception Rule

The Republican-led bill would have inserted a broad religious exemption.

The Senate on Thursday defeated a Republican-led bid to insert a broad religious exemption into a federal mandate that requires most employers and health insurance companies to provide free contraception coverage.

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The largely party-line vote was 51-48 in favor of tabling an amendment that Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., had offered to a federal transportation bill.

Blunt and other Republicans had argued that the measure would protect the religious liberty of institutions such as Catholic charities and hospitals that object to contraception on moral grounds.

"It's not just the Catholic Church," Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said during the floor debate on Thursday. "It's a moral and religious issue that should not be interfered with by the federal government."

In February, the Obama administration proposed a revision whereby insurers, not religious institutions, could provide contraception services to employees.

But Catholic and evangelical leaders dismissed the revision as an "accounting gimmick," and said it would not help large institutions, such as universities, that are self-insured.

Democrats portrayed the Blunt amendment as an attack on women's rights and a Pandora's box that would have allowed any employer or insurer to use moral scruples as an excuse to limit coverage.

"We have never had a conscience clause for insurance companies," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. "If we want to give them a chance to say 'no,' a lot of them have no consciences and they'll take it."

After the amendment's defeat, the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference said it will pursue legislation in the House, where Republicans are in the majority.

"We will not rest until the protection of conscience rights is restored and the First Amendment is returned to its place of respect in the Bill of Rights," said Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., chair of the bishops' religious liberty committee.

Comments

Thank God for Democrats with the good sense to quell the hysteria of the Republicans.

"Good sense?' Hard to see how forcing Christians to subsidize immorality can be construed as 'good sense' and objections as 'hysteria.' Thank God for clergy with the spine to stand up for what they say they believe.

There is nothing immoral about contraception within marriage. Even most Catholics use it. The Blunt amendment would allow ANY employer simply to not insure their employees on virtually any medication or procedure. Now that's immoral! The highly controversial Blount amendment being attached to a bi-partisanhighway bill that would employ many is immoral. By the way I am a clergyperson with backbone.

Attention Charles: Married couples use contraception. Unmarried women use hormonal contraception for non-sexual purposes. And why wasn't this policy of providing contraceptive coverage as part of health insurance a problems during the Bush years? Is it a suddenly and conveniently discovered moral problem raised only as part of an election campaign?

The Catholic Church does not want to outlaw contraceptives. They just don't want to pay for them.
The truth is that most contraceptives are abortifacents, and if someone believes that these chemicals lead to the death of a child, then as Christians, heck, as moral people, they don't want to be forced to pay for it.
On the other hand, the Catholic Church, in Humanae Vitae chapter 15, "does not consider at all illicit the use of those therapeutic means necessary to cure bodily diseases, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result there from." In other words, the use of birth control pills for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely allowed... and the means for a doctor to prescribe for therapeutic reason vs. contraceptive reasons are already part of the health insurance protocol.
In addition, pregnancy is NOT a disease to be cured. And as for birth spacing, again from Humanae Vitae: "there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile." In other words, the Catholic Church is not advocating for "barefoot and pregnant" women... but for healthy women whose bodies are not chemically altered to make their wombs poisonous to their conceived progeny.
Get the facts, please.

The issue is about whether the government can force a religious institution to go against it's belief and be forced by the government to provide a service that they believe is a sin and be fined if they follow their conscience.
It would be like the government forcing the SDA church to work on Sabbath or even worse, to force us to pay someone to work on Sabbath. It would be against our religious principle.
Whether the people of the Catholic church use or don't use contraceptive, it is part of their belief and that should not be taken from them by the government.
This is just a way to "chip-away" our religious freedoms. We should be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with our Catholic and Jewish brothers to protect ALL religious liberty.

The way the Blunt Amendment was written, it would allow ANY employer for ANY moral objection to limit access of their employees to health care coverage.

For instance, if your employer was a Jehovah's Witness, they would not have to provide insurance that covered blood transfusions.

If your employer was a Scientologist, they would not have to provide any mental health coverage, including depression medication, Ritlan for ADD, and any other medications or therapies to treat Autism Spectrum disorders.

An employer could also limit the number of family members that could be included on a policy if they felt it immoral to overpopulate the earth.

I for one do not know what religion my employer is. I do not want to know. I should not have to know.

I pay for part of my insurance, as well, why is my employer's portion given more credence than mine?

This law is not limiting religious freedom. All of us have our money go to things we don't believe in (abortion, unnecessary wars, subsidies for oil companies, etc through taxes). What this provision does is protects the workers from unfair treatment by their employers.

I can't believe there are people who still don't get why contraceptive use is immoral. To say that it is ok to use in marriage and not out is missing the moral point of objection. Many modern contraceptives work by destroying an already fertilized egg if the person is sexually active. By allowing insurance to cover many of the contraceptives on the market is supporting homicide unless very specific language is used in the coverage description. Why aren't Christians talking about this? Is everyone just ignorant of how some of this stuff works?

What's lost in this debate is that churches and religious institutions will NOT be required to cover contraception. The insurance companies will be required to do that. If the Church's objection is that they cannot altogether deny coverage of contraception to their employees, that's a different debate altogether, and one I suspect they prefer to avoid.

Churches are standing against this. The Southern Baptists, the Roman Catholics, the Lutheran Church (at least the Missouri and Wisconsin synods) and the Jewish leaders are standing against together and saying they will disobey HHS on this. And for Dan, the insurance companies of these groups will have to give out contraceptives for free, and since they are not really "free", and it will be on behalf of the churches, will have be paying for this one way or the other and it is against their moral values and unconstitutional.

It would have been helpful to report the exceptions to the "largely party-line vote". There were three Democratic senators willing to stand up for religious freedom on this issue: Bob Casey (D-PA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Ben Nelson (D-NE). All three generally identify themselves as "pro-life". On the other side, Olympia Snowe (R-ME) was the only Republican to vote against the amendment. The hospitalized Mark Kirk (R-IL) did not vote.

Freedom of religion shouldn't mean that a religion privileges some people and not others.

Christ once told a group of self-righteous temple goers
that "Even the prostitutes and tax collectors are going into Heaven ahead of you."

Do you think he didn't know what prostitutes do? Do you think he didn't know that they too practiced
to the best of their ability contraception. They also had ways of practicing abortion, though very physically dangerous in that time, but there were potions and drugs that could achieve this.

Christ knew all this and more. Yet he went on to say that Prostitutes were going into Heaven ahead of a lot of people who consider themselves holier-than-thou.

I prefer to let Christ be the judge in each individual case of each woman with her relationship with him and keep my big nose out of it.

The Founding Fathers of our Nation tried to warn us about separation of Church and State, how it makes for a more healthy society and government.

Twisting your words around, saying your viewpoint has nothing to do with inflicting your desire to impose your religious belief onto our governmental laws goes against what these wise leaders said.

If you are one of these type people then you betray your Founding Fathers. Though you may think you are wiser than they were or somehow know better than they did, I know for a fact that you don't and I especially know that you didn't know more about all this than Jesus himself.

So do yourself a big favor, stay out of it, it's none of your business. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and render unto God what is his. In other words pay your taxes and make your donations to your church.

So don't give money to your Christian leaders who are undermining the principles of our Constitution.

In so far as your taxes, let Christ deal with the women he considers his sisters. Remember full well the prostitute that loved him and traveled with him and be very careful about anything you have to say on this issue.

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