Today, the Senate rejected the notion that your boss can decide that you shouldn't have health insurance for cancer screenings, or make you pay out of your pocket for your daughter's vaccinations. But how did such an extreme proposal like the Blunt amendment make its way to the Senate in the first place?
Two words: birth control. In 2012, almost 50 years after the Supreme Court first protected the right to contraception, and although virtually all women, of every religious background, use birth control at some point in their lives, some in Congress are leaving no stone unturned in an effort to roll back access to contraception.
Their beef? The Obama administration's new rule that will ensure that millions of women will have affordable coverage for contraception (which allows religiously affiliated institutions not to contribute to that coverage).
Their response? To come after more than just your birth control. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) put forward a radical proposal that would allow any employer or any insurer to deny insurance coverage for any service required under the health care reform law—from prenatal care to mental health services. It seems insane, but it's exactly where the faulty/dangerous logic behind denying contraceptive coverage takes you. Because a small group of powerful people oppose birth control and other health care services, they want a scheme under which your boss—even if you work at Taco Bell, as suggested by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ lawyer—can dictate your access to health care based on his morals. Or the insurance company your boss at Taco Bell contracts with could decide it doesn’t want to offer coverage for a range of services based on the insurance company’s CEO’s morals.
Although the Blunt amendment’s backers tried again to claim otherwise, we've explained before that the contraceptive coverage rule does no harm to religious liberty. In reality, they want to use religion as a license to discriminate and impose a narrow set of beliefs on any of us who don't share them. That's not what the Constitution protects.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius put it well: "Decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss."
Let's keep it that way.