Friday, March 2, 2012

Catholic politicians block conscience protection amendment

(EWTN) An amendment to ensure religious freedom against the recent federal contraception mandate was voted down in the Senate with the help of 13 Catholic politicians March 1.

Of the 24 Catholic members of the U.S. Senate, 13 Democrats opposed the amendment while 11 Republicans and 3 Democrats supported it. Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), expressed his disappointment with the bill's narrow defeat, but said the “fight is not over” and that he would continue to work to protect the First Amendment.

Chairman of the U.S. Catholic bishops committee on religious freedom, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., said that he would continue working to “build on this base of support” to defend conscience rights, which is the “most critical issue before our country right now.” The Senate voted 51-48 on Thursday to “table” the proposed amendment, effectively killing it by preventing an up-or-down vote on the amendment itself.

In voting down the Blunt amendment, the U.S. Senate has taken “the unprecedented step to deny our religious liberties” president of Catholic Advocate, Matt Smith, said in a March 1 press release.
The proposed amendment would have allowed health care providers to opt out of providing coverage that violates their “religious beliefs or moral convictions.” Senators Bob Casey (D.-Penn.), Joe Manchin (D.- W. Va.) and Ben Nelson (D.-Neb.) were the minority of Senate Democrats in their support for the amendment.

Although he “strongly” supports contraceptives and has voted to provide funding for them in the past, Casey said he believes that “religiously affiliated institutions should not be forced by their governments to violate their beliefs.”

Obama's Feb. 10 accommodation “does not go far enough to ensure that this ruling doesn't infringe upon religious liberties” Casey said. Those who opposed the amendment said it contained “dangerously broad language” which could potentially limit healthcare to women and children, John Kerry (D-Mass.) said.
Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who voted against the amendment, said it would undermine “women's ability to access basic healthcare.”

As it stands, the contraception mandate – first announced Jan. 22 and amended Feb.10 – would force employers to buy insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-causing drugs, even if doing so violates their conscience.

The 13 Catholic senators who voted to table the amendment are Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Pat Leahy (D-Vt.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).


  1. How is it that this President and these Senators can deliberately fail to uphold the U.S. Constitution when to do so is contrary to their oaths of office?

    As such, I believe, a shift in tactic is now needed. When we say "religious liberty" we lose half our audience and automatically invite our opponents to cloud the issue with the "contraception" rhetoric.

    IMHO, while religious freedom is the vehicle which we need to fight for, our argument should also move to champion the upholding the Constitution. In asking anyone in opposition to our cause "Why are you opposed to upholding the Constitution?" one immediately disarms the "contraception" verbiage and keeps that audience that would othwise turn away at the mere mention of the word "religious".

    Asking our political opposition to answer "Why are you opposed to upholding the Constitution?" keeps the focus politically salient without adding complexity, transcends gender, and may not only keep that other half of the audience but ato expand our message. If I am not mistaken, this is not only a truth of this matter but a question which must be answered.

  2. I look forward to hearing the letter from my bishop instructing the faithful and announcing that his fellow bishops, in whose dioceses those faithless politicians reside, have publicly recognized the self-excommunications of those pols said to be Catholic who nevertheless voted down the Blunt amendment.

    The time for some vigorous shepherding is now, before more of the flock scatters and are consumed by the wolves.