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Reid Complains on Mandate: “GOP Talking About the Constitution”

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | LifeNews.com | 2/9/12 8:35 PM

National

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid blocked a pro-life Republican senator on Thursday from putting forward an amendment to a Senate bill that would prevent the controversial new Obamacare mandate from going into effect.

As the Huffington Post reports — Reid’s problem wasn’t so much that Republicans want to protect the conscience rights of employers who don’t want to be forced to cover birth control and drugs that may cause abortions, it was that GOP lawmakers wanted to promote the First Amendment.

“Here is a bipartisan bill to create and save jobs,” the Democrat from Nevada said, noting it had required the input of four different committees. “Every state in the union is desperate for these dollars. But to show how the Republicans never lose an opportunity to mess up a good piece of legislation, listen to this: They’re talking about First Amendment rights, the Constitution.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor following Reid’s objection to the “Religious Freedom” amendment offered by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri and was incredulous.

“Our country is unique in the world because it was established on the basis of an idea: that we are all endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights — in other words, rights that are conferred not by a king or a president or a Congress, but by the Creator himself. The state protects these rights, but it doesn’t grant them,” McConnell said.

“Our founders believed so strongly that the government should neither establish a religion nor prevent its free exercise that they listed it as the very first item in the Bill of Rights,” he continued. “And Republicans are trying today to reaffirm that basic right. But Democrats won’t allow it. They won’t allow those of us who were sworn to uphold the U.S. Constitution to even offer an amendment that says we believe in our First Amendment right to religious freedom. I never thought I’d see the day.”

Blunt defended his amendment, HuffPo indicated.

“The administration said there would be a rule,” Blunt said. “And to make it even more offensive, they said, by the way, here’s what the rule is going to be, and we’re going to give you a year to figure out how to adjust your views to accommodate the rule. I would have been less offended if they just said, here’s the rule.”

Meanwhile, the Republican presidential candidates have been taking verbal swings at Obama for imposing the mandate on religious employers, which is not popular in the latest public opinion poll and which even some Democrats oppose.

The Obama administration is reportedly considering a compromise on its new mandate that has caused national outrage because it forces religious employers to cover birth control and drugs that may cause abortions. However, the leading pro-life spokesman for the Catholic bishops says the compromise may be worse.

Congressman Steve Scalise has led a bipartisan letter with 154 co-signers calling on the Obama Administration to reverse its unconstitutional mandate forcing religious organizations to include drugs that can cause abortion and birth control in the health care plans of their employees.

Bishops across the country have spoken out against the mandate and are considering a lawsuit against it — with bishops in more than 164 locations across the United States issuing public statements against it or having letters opposing it printed in diocesan newspaper or read from the pulpit.

“We cannot — we will not comply with this unjust law,” said the letter from Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

Responding to the announcement, Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated: “In effect, the president is saying we have a year to figure out how to violate our consciences.”

“To force Americans to choose between violating their consciences and forgoing their healthcare is literally unconscionable. . . It is as much an attack on access to health care as on religious freedom,” he added.

The mandate is so egregious that even the normally reliably liberal and pro-abortion USA Today condemned it in an editorial titled, “Contraception mandate violates religious freedom.”

The administration initially approved a recommendation from the Institute of Medicine suggesting that it force insurance companies to pay for birth control and drugs that can cause abortions under the Obamacare government-run health care program.

The IOM recommendation, opposed by pro-life groups, called for the Obama administration to require insurance programs to include birth control — such as the morning after pill or the ella drug that causes an abortion days after conception — in the section of drugs and services insurance plans must cover under “preventative care.” The companies will likely pass the added costs on to consumers, requiring them to pay for birth control and, in some instances, drug-induced abortions of unborn children in their earliest days.

The HHS accepted the IOM guidelines that “require new health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services” and those services include “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” — which include birth control drugs like Plan B and ella that can cause abortions. The Health and Human Services Department commissioned the report from the Institute, which advises the federal government and shut out pro-life groups in meetings leading up to the recommendations.