Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) agreed to attack Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) to an unrelated transportation bill. Reid took the procedural offensive here saying that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) insisted on tying the amendment to the legislation if Democrats wanted to advance the highway bill. Reid felt he had no choice but to agree since the highway bill would save or create 1.8 million jobs.
It can’t hurt that the public is squarely against Republicans on this issue.
“We’re in a situation in the 21st century where, in order to move forward on a highway bill that funds our highways, our roads, our bridges, our transit systems, in order to move forward on that jobs bill, where 2.8 million jobs are at stake in this great nation, we have to have a vote on birth control,” Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) said on the Senate floor. “I just want to say to my friends on the other side of the aisle, what are you thinking?”
The Obama administration also went on the offensive in anticipation of Thursday’s vote, with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offering the following statement.
Earlier this month, the Department of Health & Human Services reported that over 20 million American women in private health insurance plans have already gained access to at least one free preventive service because of the health care law. Without financial barriers like co-pays and deductibles, women are better able to access potentially life-saving services, and cancers are caught earlier, chronic diseases are managed and hospitalizations are prevented.
A proposal being considered in the Senate this week would allow employers that have no religious affiliation to exclude coverage of any health service, no matter how important, in the health plan they offer to their workers. This proposal isn’t limited to contraception nor is it limited to any preventive service. Any employer could restrict access to any service they say they object to. This is dangerous and wrong.
The Obama administration believes that decisions about medical care should be made by a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her boss. We encourage the Senate to reject this cynical attempt to roll back decades of progress in women’s health.
The administration’s tone, and the actions by Democrats, are right on the money with this issue. This is not about religious freedom but on an insistence that women’s bodies are objects of public political gamesmanship.
Photo from brains the head via flickr.