Sen. Landrieu’s Justification of the vote against the Blunt amendment
I sent an email urging Sen. Mary Landrieu (who says she is Catholic) to support the Blunt Amendment. Today, I got an email in response (which apparently was sent to others)
Thank you for your letter in support of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The recent decision by the administration to require contraception coverage as a health insurance benefit has raised a number of questions and brought some difficult issues to the surface. I value your input on this important issue.I strongly support the values and teachings of the Catholic Church, and I was one of the voices who expressed concerns about the Obama administration’s initial, ill-advised policy on this issue. On February 10th the administration modified the policy, and the revised rule, in my view, protects religious freedom and respects the rights of churches and Catholic hospitals and institutions. The compromise requires health insurance companies to provide free preventive contraceptive services if a religiously-based employer chooses not to. This compromise is supported by the Catholic Health Association, and has no effect on the conscience clause protections that currently exist for providers, which allow a Catholic doctor, for example, to refuse to write a prescription for contraception.However, the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (also known as the “Blunt amendment” after its sponsor, Senator Blunt) goes too far. It would allow any employer or insurance provider to block any service, preventive or otherwise, that is “contrary to the religious beliefs or moral convictions of the sponsor, issuer or other entity offering the plan.” This not only includes preventive birth control medication, which millions of American women rely on, but could also include transfusions, organ transplants or hospice care, which some “sponsors” may find objectionable.I understand how sensitive this issue is, and I am very grateful for your input. There are no easy answers to these difficult questions and I appreciate you taking the time to write to me.
I’m going to ignore the part about how she finds that the compromise actually protects religious freedom but we can pretend that it actually does. Her objection then to Blunt amendment is that many other types of services could be objected to, creating a mish-mash of coverage.
I’m having difficulty with Landrieu’s argument. As I read it, I wondered “…and? So what?” Let’s say Jehovah’s Witnesses denied coverage for transfusions, Scientologists denied coverage for psychological medication, and others wanted to object to hospice care period. Is that so terrible? We had a far greater mish-mash of coverages before; I think this lesser degree of variancy won’t destroy the system. We could even require that religions who deviated from the standard coverage requirements inform all employees when their coverage is renewed that they deviate, that way the employees can either a) buy supplemental coverage or b) choose alternative places of employment.
The argument then against the Blunt amendment is that minimal variance in coverages is too intolerable to permit concerns of religious liberty to be recognized. This is a terrible development for a country whose system is dependent upon diversity in order to function properly in the pursuit of true/good/better ideas.