U.S. Sen. David Vitter today voted in support of an amendment by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would that would preserve conscience rights for religious institutions who would otherwise be required under Obamacare to provide contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
“I certainly hope that the free exercise of religion is not now a partisan issue. Because what this really comes down to is the fundamental rights of conscience guaranteed under the First Amendment, and not merely a debate over policy,” said Vitter. “While the issues here specifically involve abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives, the real issue at hand is whether government is willing to trample on these first principles that we cherish so much as Americans.”
Vitter is a cosponsor of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, the original version of the Blunt amendment voted on by the Senate today. Although the amendment received bipartisan support, it failed on a 51-48 vote.
Vitter is also the author of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, which would amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit the federal government and any state or local government that receives federal financial assistance from discriminating against organizations and insurers that refuse to participate in abortion-related activities.
"The Blunt amendment simply goes too far," said Landrieu. "It would allow any insurance provider to block any service, preventive or otherwise, that is 'contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan.' This not only includes preventive birth control medication, which millions of American women rely on, but could also include blood transfusions, organ transplants or hospice care, which some 'sponsors' may find objectionable. ''
"I was one of the voices who expressed concerns about the Obama administration's initial, ill-advised policy on this issue," said Landrieu. "The administration has now modified the policy, and the revised rule, in my view, protects religious freedom and respects the rights of churches and Catholic hospitals and institutions."