Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–March 1, 2012. The Senate’s defeat of the so-called “Respect for Rights of Conscience Act” today saved countless U.S. women from being denied contraception coverage in their employee health plans. The amendment, which Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) tried to force through as an attachment to a must-pass transportation bill, would have allowed any employer or insurance plan, with or without religious affiliation, to refuse to cover any health care item or service they object to on the basis of “religious beliefs or moral convictions.”
A recent poll conducted by Public Policy Polling found that 67 percent of Americans believe “all workers should be allowed to access health care services regardless of their employer’s beliefs.” Clearly, the people of this country do not want health care issues like birth control politicized.
Without question, the politicians who voted in favor of Blunt’s amendment — whether female or male, Republican or Democrat — will pay a price in the voting booth. Voters know that individual women, unlike corporations, have consciences and religious convictions and that the Blunt Amendment is a direct attack on their right to birth control and other forms of reproductive health care. NOW and its allies will see to it that voters will remember this assault on basic health care and birth control.
NOW is closely watching two similar bills, one authored by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) and the other co-authored by Rubio and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). Both bills would allow any employer to strip birth control from their health insurance plans. NOW is urging all reproductive rights supporters to contact their senators to ensure defeat of these bills.