WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today voted to protect religious freedom from a mandate in the President’s health care law. Under the controversial law, faith-based institutions will be forced to provide health insurance that covers contraceptives and abortives, even if this would violate their religious beliefs. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) introduced an amendment to prevent the Administration from implementing the decision. However, it was tabled by a vote of 51-48.
“The First Amendment explicitly protects freedom of religion, but the Obama Administration has decided to ignore this tenet of our government” said Wicker. “While many of Obamacare’s mandates overstep the federal government’s boundaries, a rule infringing on religious freedom is one of the most outrageous. I will continue working to overturn this unprecedented rule.”
In January, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would grant exceptions for the contraception coverage mandate only to faith-based institutions that served members of the same religion. Many faith-based institutions, including hospitals and schools, are open to individuals regardless of their faith. The HHS ruling requires these institutions to either dramatically limit persons they serve or face steep fines for not complying.
Last month, Wicker co-sponsored the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, S. 2043. Similar to today’s amendment, it would prevent the Administration from forcing institutions to provide contraceptive coverage if they are opposed on the basis of religious belief. Wicker and 22 other Senators joined to co-sponsor the legislation, which was introduced by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). A similar bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Ohio).
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