Reporting Tim Kephart
Legislative Session Coverage
WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) – Republican and Democratic leaders saw their opponents’ blood in the water over the issue of contraception as they voted in the Senate Thursday over a controversial amendment co-sponsored by Florida Republican Marco Rubio.
The amendment, put forth by Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, would have allowed employers to deny their employees contraceptive care and other services if it conflicts with the employers religious or moral convictions.
The vote failed 51-48 with four conservative Democrats crossing party lines to vote with Republicans.
Senator Rubio has sponsored a separate bill that would only impact faith-based institutions and the issue of contraceptives.
The amendment was filed in the days after President Barack Obama’s administration mandated that health insurers cover contraception, including birth control. Many health plans didn’t cover the costs of birth control, even though they would cover costs of medicines like Viagra.
President Obama’s plan was immediately attacked by some wings of the Catholic Church and Republicans, including Rubio, as being an attack on religion. The White House allowed for a few more exemptions, but wouldn’t back down from the overall coverage mandate.
Republicans have pushed the issue trying to frame it as an attack on religion.
But, so far, the argument has fallen on deaf ears from voters. Most polling shows that wide majorities, even a majority of Catholics, support the coverage mandate for contraception.
Nevertheless, Sens. Blunt and Rubio have pushed their amendment to a vote, which could come as early as Thursday.
The amendment will not pass the Senate, which was known, but Democrats want to portray Republicans as being anti-women by making them go on the record as voting against contraception coverage.
The issue has already started to get discussed on the campaign trail with all of the GOP candidates coming out in support of the amendment, even though Mitt Romney originally said he opposed the amendment.
Many states already had similar provisions already in place for health insurers in the respective state, but the move by the administration made it applicable nationwide.