In the wake of a controversy over a requirement that religious institutions provide contraceptive coverage, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) now supports a bill that gives any employer the right to exclude any type health service that they find objectionable.
Speaking to CBS host Bob Schieffer on Sunday, McConnell said that he wasn’t satisfied with the way that the Obama administration had mandated health insurance companies cover birth control, even though Catholic hospitals and universities will no longer have to provide the services directly.
“The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem,” the Kentucky Republican explained. “This is about freedom of religion. It’s right there in the First Amendment. You can’t miss it right there in the very First Amendment to our Constitution. And the government doesn’t get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are.”
“The [Catholic] Bishops came back and said they want to push now for stronger legislation to extend this ban on religious institutions having to buy these things,” Schieffer noted. “And Sen. [Roy] Blunt from Missouri — one of your Republican colleagues — he wants an amendment now that would allow any group that had a moral objection to this to not have to pay for birth control pills. Are you willing to go as far a Sen. Blunt?”
“This issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down,” McConnell replied.
Schieffer pressed: “Are you willing to go as far as Sen. Blunt now wants to go and just write in legislation that would ban any group that had just a — quote — moral objection, not just a religious group, but just any group. Would you be willing to push that in the Senate?”
“Yeah,” McConnell admitted. “If we end up having to overcome the president’s opposition by legislation then, of course, I’d be happy to support it and intend to support it. It will be difficult as long as the president is rigid in his view that he gets to decide what somebody else’s religion is.”
“For example, any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his ‘moral convictions’ could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees,” the center observed. “Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of ‘morality’ could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. Such broad, undefined refusals (without any protections for the insured) would result in millions of individuals losing vital health service coverage.”
Watch this video from CBS’s Face the Nation, broadcast Feb. 12, 2012.
(H/T: Talking Points Memo)