Yesterday the US Senate voted 51-48 to kill the Blunt Amendment to the transportation bill that would have given employers the right to deny insurance coverage for any treatment that they objected to for any reason, representing a major setback for Religious Right groups who urged passage of the extreme amendment.
Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family’s CitizenLink called the vote an affront to the First Amendment, although it is hard to see how anyone’s First Amendment right to free exercise of religion is being violated:
“Today the government, this time via Congress, again told Americans they must ‘conform or pay a price’ when it comes to their First Amendment right to the free exercise of religion,” he said. “Americans are speaking out because they understand that they should not be forced to fight to protect what the Constitution already grants them under the First Amendment.”
The Obama Administration has issued an initial mandate that requires nearly all employers to purchase plans that cover all FDA-approved methods of birth control. NRLC has pointed out that the same authority could be employed by the Administration in the future to order virtually all health plans to cover all abortions. The focus now shifts to the House, where the same legislation, introduced as H.R. 1179 by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-Ne.), currently has 220 cosponsors (more than half of all House members). In addition, numerous lawsuits have been filed by religiously affiliated employers, challenging the Obama mandate as a violation of constitutional rights and of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
“National Right to Life will continue to challenge the Obama Administration’s abortion-expansionist agenda on Capitol Hill, and we will encourage millions of like-minded Americans to remember this issue when they cast their ballots in November,” said Carol Tobias, National Right to Life president.
Eagle Forum president Phyllis Schlafly said that contraceptives “are not really medical care”:
“The contraceptive mandate is an introduction to the real ObamaCare, whereby a handful of leftists in D.C. impose the views of their big-money donors on more than 300 million Americans,” said Schlafly. “If the Obama Administration’s contraceptive mandate remains intact, then liberals will continue to demand that Americans pay for objectionable items and services that are not really medical care.”
Tony Perkins of FRCAction warned that the Constitution has been “sacrificed”:
“Today, 51 senators, led by Sen. Harry Reid, sacrificed the Constitutional right of religious liberty on the altar of the Obama administration’s radical big-government agenda. They turned a deaf ear to the very real religious and moral objections of millions of Americans and the First Amendment rights of all.
Concerned Women for America’s Penny Nance maintained that the mandate was part of a growing “oppressive federal bureaucracy”:
“America’s women refuse to accept this unconstitutional government order,” said Penny Nance, CEO of Concerned Women for America. The Obama Administration’s HHS Mandate demolishes our constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and conscience rights.”
“Churches, religious organizations, and people of faith and conscience must have the right to choose their own health care and make their own moral decisions without having to submit to the one size fits all policies of President Obama and Secretary Sebelius’ oppressive federal bureaucracy,” Nance said.