The controversy over a proposal to allow employees at religiously affiliated institutions to get insurance plans covering contraception has seeped into one of the most hotly contested Senate races in the country.
Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts and his likely Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren have released dueling radio ads about a federal mandate that had required employers like Catholic hospitals to offer insurance plans that cover basic medical care for women, including birth control pills.
Both ads hit the airwaves Thursday, The Boston Globe reported.
And a change in plan -- President Barack Obama said women can get the coverage directly from the insurance company -- has done little to quell the outrage among the GOP and some Democrats.
In the ads, Brown and Warren stake their positions in a debate on balancing a woman's access to health care and religious objection to contraception.
Brown, a Republican who won his seat in an upset two years ago, cited the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, his predecessor, in supporting an amendment that goes beyond religiously affiliated institutions to allow any employer to deny medical coverage because of a religious objection.
Like Ted Kennedy before me, I support a conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of faith, Brown says in the minute-long spot. I believe it's possible to provide people with access to the health care they want, while at the same time protecting the rights of Americans to follow their religious beliefs.
In Warren's ad, the Harvard Law professor and consumer advocate slammed the proposed amendment from Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and last week's congressional hearing on contraception featuring an all-male panel.
Now, the Senate is about the vote on a new law, proposed by Republicans, that allows your employer or insurance company to claim a vague 'moral conviction' to deny you contraception or any health care coverage they want, Warren said, saying access to contraception, mammograms and maternity care are at risk.
Warren said she supports Obama's compromise on the insurance mandate, calling it the right approach to address the Catholic bishops' concerns.
This isn't about the rights of religious institutions; we must protect those rights, Warren said in the 60-second spot. President Obama already made sure religious institutions can't be forced to cover birth control. But the president also made sure women can get the care they need.