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By a narrow 51-48 vote – mainly along party lines – the Senate rejected an amendment that would have exempted employers and insurers from covering contraceptive devices if it went against their moral beliefs, NPR reports.
Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, who sponsored the amendment, said it was meant to protect First Amendment rights. “The first freedom in the founding documents is freedom of religion,” he said.
Democrat Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said he found the amendment’s language vague, in that it appeared to give employers the right to opt out of any benefit to which they considered objectional. “Imagine that your boss is going to decide whether or not you’re acting morally,” he said.
In related news, a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that most Americans also support the birth control mandate. While reponses were divided based on age and political affiliation (see chart below – click to enlarge), 63% overall said health plans should provide free contraceptives.