Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown and his Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren both published op-eds in the Boston Globe Friday, contrasting each other's views on the Obama administration's federal mandate regarding health care coverage for contraception and a bill designed to circumvent it.
The mandate initially required employers to cover contraception in their health care plans, regardless of religious objections, but was later revised to allow exemptions with costs shifted to insurance companies.
Brown remains opposed to the mandate despite the revision, and is supporting a Republican-sponsored bill that would allow employers to deny coverage of birth control in their health care plans due to conscientious objections, a decision which Warren criticized in her op-ed.
I support Obama's solution because I believe we must respect people of all religious faiths, while still ensuring that women have access to contraceptives, wrote Warren.
Brown has rejected this compromise. Instead, he has co-sponsored a bill that will let any employer or any insurance company cut off contraceptive care, maternity care, or whatever they want, and leave women without coverage at all for this basic medical care.
Brown defends his position in his op-ed, and characterizes Warren as endorsing an intrusion on freedom of conscience.
Warren claims the administration has found a 'compromise,' but it has not, Brown wrote. The church remains opposed and lawsuits are being filed. I support a bipartisan bill in the Senate that provides a conscience exemption in health care for people of faith.
Brown refers to the Catholic church in the above statement, which has expressed its views on the issue through the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The USCCB released a statement on Feb. 10, following the Obama administration's revision of the contraceptive mandate.
It would still mandate that all insurers must include coverage for the objectionable services in all the policies they would write, said the statement. At this point, it would appear that self-insuring religious employers, and religious insurance companies, are not exempt from this mandate.
These changes require careful moral analysis, and moreover, appear subject to some measure of change. But we note at the outset that the lack of clear protection for key stakeholders-for self-insured religious employers; for religious and secular for-profit employers; for secular non-profit employers; for religious insurers; and for individuals--is unacceptable and must be corrected.
Other Catholic-affiliated organizations have expressed approval for the revision. The Catholic Health Association, which was initially critical of the mandate, said the revised plan protects the religious liberty and conscience rights of Catholic institutions, Politico reported.
Both Brown and Warren are aiming to distinguish themselves on opposite sides of a culture war in an increasingly contentious election year, and the debate over government involvement in health care has become punctuated by social issues such as birth control.
After the many genuine concerns that have been raised over the last few weeks, as well as the frankly more cynical desire by some to make this into a political football, it became clear that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option, said President Barack Obama in a White House press conference following his decision to revise the mandate, Politico reported.
The president said he knew his decision would be turned into a wedge issue, But it shouldn't be.