Thursday, March 1, 2012

Contraception Amendment Defeated in U.S. Senate

Posted By on Thu, Mar 1, 2012 at 10:36 AM

The U.S. Senate voted this morning 51-48 to kill the controversial Blunt amendment that attempted to weaken the Obama administration's policy requiring employers to provide birth control to their employees. The measure would have allowed employers to opt out of health coverage that mandated contraception coverage.

Maine Republican Sen. Olympia Snowe, who has announced she will not run for re-election, joined nearly all Democrats in the "no" vote. Democratic Sens. Ben Nelson of Nebraska, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania joined Republicans in support of the amendment. Idaho Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch also voted "yes."

A similar measure, tailored for Idaho, was introduced Feb. 20 in the Idaho Legislature by Emmett Republican Rep. Carlos Bilbao.

Missouri Republican Sen. Roy Blunt pushed for the amendment because he said an accommodation offered by the Obama White House to address complaints that its mandate violated religious freedom was insufficient. The White House policy requires employers and insurance carriers to include contraception in employee's health plans without charging a co-pay, but it exempts churches and religious-affiliated employers.

Blunt attempted to attach his amendment to a highway bill, but the Senate voted to table the measure, in effect killing it.

Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney stumbled this week when he flip-flopped on his support or opposition of the Blunt amendment. In an interview with the Ohio News Network, Romney said he didn't didn't support the measure, but his campaign immediately reversed his position. A Romney spokeswoman said the question was asked in a confusing way.

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