Today the US Senate voted down the Blunt Amendment 51 to 48. The Blunt Amendment, which was attached to a transportation bill, would have permitted employers to deny their employees health care coverage based on the employer’s “moral” objections. Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal, who was standing outside the Senate floor during the vote, celebrated the vote but commented, “It is outrageous that so many senators think it is ok to empower employers to take away health coverage from workers, especially women.”
Senator Olympia Snowe (ME) was the only Republican who voted to kill the Blunt Amendment by tabling it as three Democrats, Senators Robert Casey (PA), Joe Manchin (WV) and Ben Nelson (NE) voted with the Republicans to bring the Amendment to the floor for a vote.
The amendment introduced by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) in response to the Obama Administration’s ruling that employer insurance plans must cover FDA approved birth control with no co-pays or deductibles starting August 2012. Employers at religious institutions such as hospitals and universities could elect not to cover contraception but private insurance providers would be required to cover it at no additional cost. Houses of worship would be exempt from the requirement.
The Blunt Amendment would have allowed employers to withhold coverage not only for contraception but other health care such as annual well-woman visits and cancer screenings, counseling, such as for domestic and interpersonal violence, and testing for HIV and STIs, breastfeeding support, and lactation services and supplies.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said of today’s vote, “it’s just the latest ploy in the Republican agenda of disrespecting the health of American women. I thank my colleagues in the Senate who are working to strengthen women’s health, rather than diminish it, by tabling this extreme legislation.”
Feminist Majority 3/1/12