Thirteen Catholic Senators Vote Against Religious Liberty

National   Steven Ertelt   Mar 1, 2012   |   1:53PM    Washington, DC

The Senate today voted against the Blunt Amendment that would have protected the rights of religious employers from having to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Although the Catholic Church and leading pro-life Catholic groups strongly supported the amendment and one Cardinal warned how the Obama HHS mandate might have devastating effects for Catholic health care — possibly shutting down hospitals — Catholic senators didn’t appear to get the message. Thirteen of them voted against the amendment.

“By consenting to the disastrous HHS mandate, the U.S. Senate has taken the unprecedented step to deny our religious liberties instead of defending the Constitution,” said Matt Smith, president of Catholic Advocate. “It is disappointing to witness a group of senators misled on this issue at the expense of one of our key founding principles.”

The following is a list of how the 24 Catholic Senators voted on the Blunt amendment:

Senator Mark Begich (Alaska, D) – Opposed
Senator Lisa Murkowski (Alaska, R) – Supported
Senator Marco Rubio (Florida, R) – Supported
Senator Tom Harkin (Iowa, D) – Opposed
Senator James Risch (Idaho, R) – Supported
Senator Richard Durbin (Illinois, D) – Opposed
Senator Mary Landrieu (Louisiana, D) – Opposed
Senator David Vitter (Louisiana, R) – Supported
Senator John Kerry (Massachusetts, D) – Opposed
Senator Barbara Mikulski (Maryland, D) – Opposed
Senator Susan Collins (Maine, R) – Supported
Senator Claire McCaskill (Missouri, D) – Opposed
Senator John Hoeven (North Dakota, R) – Supported
Senator Mike Johanns (Nebraska, R) – Supported
Senator Kelly Ayotte (New Hampshire, R) – Supported
Senator Robert Menendez (New Jersey, D) – Opposed
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (New York, D) – Opposed
Senator Bob Casey Jr. (Pennsylvania, D) – Supported
Senator Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania, R) – Supported
Senator Jack Reed (Rhode Island, D) – Opposed
Senator Pat Leahy (Vermont, D) – Opposed
Senator Maria Cantwell (Washington, D) – Opposed
Senator Patty Murray (Washington, D) – Opposed
Senator Joe Manchin III (West Virginia, D) – Supported

“Faithful Catholics should take the opportunity to thank those Senators supporting our religious liberties,” added Smith. “It is our duty as laity to hold those who did not support our values accountable and vote our conscience when the time comes.”

Smith said the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act amends the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act “to permit a health plan to decline coverage of specific items and services that are contrary to the religious beliefs of the sponsor, issuer, or other entity offering the plan or the purchaser or beneficiary (in the case of individual coverage) without penalty.”