Two female Republican members of the U.S. Senate, Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine, have broken rank with their party and come out in favor of a new rule issued by the Obama Administration that requires private health insurers to fully pay for the cost of contraception products.
The two lawmakers extended their support after the administration tweaked its rule to exempt religious non-profits from paying any part of the cost for contraception.
“It appears that changes have been made that provide women’s health services without compelling Catholic organizations in particular to violate the beliefs and tenets of their faith,” Snowe said in a prepared statement. “According to the Catholic Health Association, the administration ‘responded to the issues [they] identified that needed to be fixed,’ which is what I urged the president to do in addressing this situation.”
Collins added that she was glad to see the administration had “finally listened to the concerns raised by many and appears to be seeking to avoid the threat to religious liberties posed by its original plan.”
Their support comes as Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) is shopping around an amendment to the rule that would allow any employer, not just religious non-profits, to do away with workers’ contraception coverage. He was backed up by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who said Sunday that he supports taking the teeth out of the president’s rule by exempting any employer that wants out.
The rule initially required employers to pay in workplaces that cover the cost of health insurance for their employees, but it was strongly opposed by the Catholic Church, which considers contraceptive use to be a sin unless the user is a prostitute.
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