By a 51-48 vote, the Senate just set aside an effort to reverse the Obama administration’s policy requiring most employers to provide health insurance plans that cover the cost of women’s contraception methods.
The so-called Blunt amendment (because it was proposed by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo.) “would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the president’s health care law they found morally objectionable,” as The Associated Press puts it.
As NPR’s Rob Stein has reported, the administration’s position has sparked criticism from those who say it infringes on religious freedom by forcing some businesses and organizations with religious affiliations to do something that violates their beliefs.
But proponents say women’s access to contraceptive services needs to be protected — and that the way the policy has been structured, to have insurance companies provide the coverage directly to employees without forcing the employers to pay for it — protects the institutions’ rights as well. Also, “there is an exception for churches that may oppose contraception,” NPR’s Scott Horsley has reported.
The Shots blog will have more on all this.