Pro-Life, Pro-Abortion Groups Split on Outcome of Blunt Amdt

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 1, 2012   |   2:31PM   |   Washington, DC

Leading pro-abortion and pro-life groups are split as far apart as possible in their reactions to today’s vote in the Senate to defeat the Blunt Amendment protecting religious employers that do not want to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions for their employees.

The following are comments from top pro-life leaders and groups:

Alliance Defense Fund Legal Counsel Matt Bowman: “The government cannot tell Americans that certain parts of their faith are not important enough to practice. People of faith are explicitly protected by the Constitution and federal law from such radical state invasions of conscience. The Blunt/Fortenberry Amendment was a necessary measure to begin to restore the religious liberties of Americans that ObamaCare has trampled on with its assumption of unlimited bureaucratic power. Every vote for religious freedom should be unanimous, but tragically, our fundamental freedoms didn’t seem to matter to enough senators.”

Marjorie Dannenfelser of the Susan B. Anthony List: “Today the Senate failed to defend the conscience rights of millions of Americans that are being trampled upon by Obamacare. Americans do not wish to be forced to pay for abortion-inducing drugs by unelected bureaucrats in Washington. There will be consequences in November for Senators in tight races who voted to kill this amendment with the absurd reasoning that they are acting in the best interests of women. Undermining the religious liberty and conscience rights of women can never serve them.”

American Center for Law and Justice chief counsel Jay Sekulow: “The Senate missed an important opportunity to act on behalf of millions of Americans who understand that the HHS regulation violates religious liberty and their conscience rights. We appreciate the effort of Sen. Roy Blunt to give Americans an opportunity to opt out of this troubling measure. Unfortunately, a majority of the Senate has decided to back the constitutionally-flawed Obama Administration measure which violates the conscience rights and deeply held religious beliefs of millions of Americans.”

AUL president Charmaine Yoest: “The Senate has failed in its duty to provide a balance of power against the Obama Administration’s outrageous power grab that violates Americans’ freedom of conscience. Americans should be able to make healthcare coverage choices that are consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions. Across the country, outrage over forcing Americans to pay for an abortion-inducing drug mandate is growing. We will remember in November.”

FRCAction President Tony Perkins:

“Today, 51 senators, led by Sen. Harry Reid, sacrificed the Constitutional right of religious liberty on the altar of the Obama administration’s radical big-government agenda. They turned a deaf ear to the very real religious and moral objections of millions of Americans and the First Amendment rights of all.

“We thank Democrat Senators Joe Manchin, Robert Casey and Ben Nelson for standing up to their caucus and fighting for religious liberty. Their vote for Sen. Blunt’s bill, along with support from Republican Senators ranging from pro-life Senator Kelly Ayotte to pro-abortion Senator Susan Collins showed that this is not about women’s health but about whether the government can violate religious liberties.

“The President and Congress need to wake up and realize that they have run into an immovable wall of principle that religious liberties are still in fact fundamental rights in this country. No political machinations they attempt will surmount the unshakeable religious and moral convictions of those of us opposing this government mandate.

“We urge the House of Representatives to pass Congressman Jeff Fortenberry’s legislation and send it back to the Senate as Americans increasingly realize that their fundamental religious liberties are being threatened.”

On the other side, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards was delighted.

“This is an important victory.  Today’s vote says that your boss won’t be able to decide which prescriptions you can get filled and which medical procedures you can have. For women, this vote is an important victory for covering contraception just like other preventive health care.  The birth control benefit is critically important for millions of women, who have watched the debate over this benefit with disappointment and bewilderment.”

“Today the U.S. Senate stood up for women’s health and basic health care, and defeated this extreme proposal that would have allowed any corporation or health plan to refuse to cover any health care service they object to, such as cancer screenings, maternity care, HIV/AIDS treatments, and others.  The Blunt amendment would have rolled back an enormously popular benefit and undermined a fundamental principle of the health care law — that everyone in this country deserves a basic standard of health insurance coverage.”

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, also praised the vote.

“Today’s vote is a win for women,” Keenan said. “The combination of grassroots power and strong leadership in the Senate ensures that women will get health insurance coverage for contraception. The senators who voted against birth control will have to answer to their constituents why they would be okay with giving bosses who oppose contraception the ability to deny this coverage to their employees.”

“The Senate vote shows that women’s contraceptive coverage should not depend on their bosses’ views on birth control,” Keenan said. “Even though women have won this important round, we know that these politicians are obsessed with attacking birth control. That’s why we will continue to fight back against this anti-contraception agenda that is so out of touch with our nation’s values and priorities.”

Keenan said her organization spent approximately $250,000 to air radio ads in four states: Colorado, Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The radio effort builds on more than 70,000 email messages the organization’s activists sent to their senators and paid patch-through calls channeling messages to Senate offices. NARAL Pro-Choice America also rolled out a $45,000 online ad and recruitment plan, including ads on Facebook and Google to raise the visibility of the threat to birth control among women ages 18 to 40.