Amendment aimed at contraception mandate stalls in Senate
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
By Michelle Bauman
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- An amendment providing a religious exemption to the Obama administration's contraception mandate was prevented from coming to a vote in the U.S. Senate on Feb. 15.

“This is supposed to be a body where we have open discussion, where any member can offer any amendment to any bill at any time,” said Senator Dan Coats (R-Ind.).

He criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for shutting off the opportunity to introduce new amendments to a bill that was under discussion in the Senate.

“I think the American people want more than that,” he said.

Coats is one of several senators who has spoken out strongly against a controversial insurance mandate announced recently by the Obama administration. Critics of the mandate argue that it forces religious employers to purchase health insurance plans that violate their consciences.
In recent days, Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) has attempted to introduce a bipartisan amendment that would have allowed employers to opt out of providing coverage that violates their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Sen. Reid had initially indicated that he would allow the amendment to be introduced on Feb. 15.

However, he then blocked it through a procedure known as “filling the tree,” by which the majority leader fills all possible openings for amendments on a piece of legislation, thereby preventing other senators from offering further amendments.

Reid had criticized the proposed amendment, saying that it was “senseless” and premature because all of the details regarding the mandate are not yet clear.

The Obama administration has been the center of controversy over its new mandate, which would require many religious employers to purchase insurance plans including contraception, sterilization and early-abortion drugs.

Faced with outcry from both religious and secular groups, President Barack Obama on Feb. 10 announced an “accommodation” for religious freedom. Instead of having employers purchase the controversial coverage directly, the new policy would require them to buy health care plans from insurance companies that would be required to offer such coverage free of charge.

Blunt called the new policy an “accounting gimmick,” joining with numerous other critics who argued that the “accommodation” failed to provide adequate protection for religious freedom.

He argued that his amendment was important to safeguard the rights laid out by the American founders in the First Amendment.

By amending a transportation bill that was already up for debate in the Senate, Blunt’s proposal would have given the issue immediate attention in the Senate.

However, other legislative efforts to fight the mandate are already underway. 

Among the most prominent of these efforts is the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, introduced by Representative Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.), which currently has 190 cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

In addition, Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, which has 29 cosponsors in the Senate.

The U.S. bishops have called for continued legislative efforts to oppose the mandate and defend the religious liberty of the American people.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Cardinal Luis Tagle to Pope Francis
Pope Francis in the Philippines: Manila Welcomes the Pope
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Highlights
Pope Francis in Sri Lanka: Interview with Cardinal Ranjith
Pope Francis in SriLanka: Inter-religious Faith Meeting
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day

Liturgical Calendar

January 26, 2015

Memorial of Saints Timothy and Titus, Bishops

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mk 3:22-30


Daily Readings

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »


Homily of the Day

Mk 3:22-30