Forty-eight senators voted for this?

March 1, 2012

So, the Blunt amendment got killed in the Senate. And good riddance: you wouldn't know it from the L.A. Times's writeup, but the measure was a good bit broader than a reversal of the Obama administration's contraception mandate (which itself would have been nothing to celebrate). From the amendment text (pdf):

A health plan shall not be considered to have failed to provide the
essential health benefits package...on the basis that it declines to
provide coverage of specific items or services because...providing
coverage (or, in the case of a sponsor of a group health plan, paying
for coverage) of such specific items or services is contrary to the
religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer, or other
entity offering the plan.

In other words, essentially a line-item veto of whatever the boss is morally opposed to, based on church teaching or otherwise. So while there may be some fair distinctions to be drawn between the Catholic bishops' views on contraception and Adam Lee's nightmare scenarios of employers otherwise exercising their religious freedom, under the Blunt amendment Lee's hypotheticals wouldn't have been all that far-fetched. Here's one of them:

I'm a business owner who believes, for religious reasons, that sex
outside marriage is a sin. Can I insist on my employees having a health
insurance plan that doesn't pay for prenatal care unless the woman is
married? If I also believe that divorce is a sin, can I insist on a plan
that doesn't pay for prenatal care if the woman is divorced and
remarried?

Read the rest. The amendment failed--but only by a few votes. Can't imagine many of the "no" voters were thrilled to see this particular vote come up (in an election year!).

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