Cornyn, Hutchison vote for contraceptive exemption bill
While a Republican Senate bill seeking to overturn the Obama administration’s contraception health care policy rule was eventually tabled Thursday morning, a fight over religious freedom and women’s health proceeded, with two Texas Senators defending the measure.
Texas Republican Senators and bill co-sponsors, John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison, voted in favor of the Blunt Amendment, authored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), which sought to block the federal administration’s mandate requiring health insurers to cover birth control for religiously affiliated institutions–a requirement seen by some Republicans and religious groups as an infringement on religious beliefs.
Defeated in a 51-48 vote, the health care amendment saw opposition from the majority of Democrats who argued the bill is written too broadly, as it allows employers to refuse insurance coverage for any service they deem “morally objectionable,”– opening the door to a litany of possible morality-based objections to preventative care.
Cornyn said critics of the measure turned the argument “into a purely partisan issue” and were trying to “make political hay by scaring people, by misleading people, that this is somehow about denying women access to contraception – when that is not the issue here,” according to media reports.
After the amendment floundered, Cornyn said the fight over the contraception mandate is not over.
“This is not a partisan issue; it is not a matter of politics; it is about upholding one of the bedrock principles upon which our great country was established,” Cornyn said. “This mandate violates a fundamental right that for centuries has made America a beacon of freedom in the world’s eye. It is an affront to the very fabric of our country, and I will keep fighting until it is fully revoked.”
Texas Democratic Party spokesperson Rebecca Acuña, voiced her disapproval of the Senators’ vote, saying it is indicative of the “assault” on women’s reproductive health care by Texas Republicans and pointing to the mandatory pre-abortion sonogram law, the soon to be cut Women’s Health Program and a national lawsuit Texas recently joined with other states to stop the federal contraceptive mandate.
“This constant attack on women’s health is reprehensible,” said Acuña in a statement released earlier today. “Senators Cornyn and Hutchison voted to put government and employers directly between a woman and her doctor. This is yet another attempt by Republicans to turn the clock back on the rights of women.”
“The assault on women’s health care has got to stop,” added Acuña. “In Texas the Republican attack on women’s rights is even worse.”