CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

March 2, 2012

News for Mrs. Boxer: We have never needed this kind of conscience clause before.

Mrs. BOXER. Mr. President, I have news for the supporters of the Blunt amendment: We were not born yesterday. And no matter how many times they say this is nothing more than a restatement of old laws, the facts are not with them. We have never had a conscience clause for insurance companies. 

We have never needed a conscience clause for employers before.  Never before has the law required every policy to cover something morally objectionable.  It is a "restatement of old laws" in that it allows the state of the old, pre-Affordable Care Act, state of the law to continue in the new Affordable Care Act era.

And if you wanted to give them a chance to say no, a lot of them don't have any conscience, so they would take it. And this is what Blunt does. It

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allows any insurance company that doesn't want to provide a service--maybe an expensive service--to say, oh, I meant to tell you, I have a moral objection to this.

   What a situation. How many people have struggled with their insurance companies to get them to cover what they have paid for for years and years and years, only to have the insurance company say, sorry, sue us. Now Mr. Blunt is giving insurance companies a way to say, oh, we feel sorry that you have cancer; we are sad you have diabetes; we are torn apart you might have a stroke, but, you know what, we have a moral objection to the kind of therapies that are out there today, so we are sorry.
   That is what the Blunt amendment does.

The Blunt amendment is there to allow anyone who has a moral objection to funding abortion-inducing drugs to not fund them.

   Should anyone think I am making it up, let's look at the words in the Blunt amendment. They are right here. They are right here. So the Senator from Maine can say whatever she wants about it, the Senator from Missouri can talk about what he wants to, but the fact is they say if you deny any coverage from the essential health benefits package or the preventive health package it is fine as long as you hide behind--my words--a moral objection.

Abortion is not essential.

The Congressional Record cannot reflect this, but in one of the instances where Sen. Barbara Boxer used the word "moral" her inflection demeaned the word entirely.

   This started out with birth control. There was a hearing over in the House, and this iconic picture will last through my lifetime and yours. Here is a photograph of a panel discussing women's health care over in the Republican House. A discussion on women's health care. Do you see one woman there? I don't. They are all men. And these men are waxing eloquent about birth control and the fact that, oh, it is just a moral issue with them and they do not think women should have the right to have it. Not one of them suggested men shouldn't have their Viagra, but we will put that aside. We will put that aside.

The discussion was on religious freedom.

   Not one woman was called. And when a woman raised her hand in the audience and said, I have a very important story to tell about a friend of mine who lost her ovary because she couldn't afford birth control, which would have controlled the size of the cyst on the ovary, you know what Mr. Issa said over there? He said, you are not qualified. You are not qualified to talk about women's issues. I guess only men are qualified to talk about women's issues. We have men on the other side of the aisle here, for the most part--with a little assist--telling women what their rights should be.

A story about a woman losing her ovary does not qualify any man or woman to participate in a discussion of the religious freedom implications of forcing every employer in the country to fund abortion-inducing drugs.

   I cannot believe this battle is on a highway bill, on a transportation bill, where 2.8 million jobs are at stake. We have been diverted with this amendment about women's health. Look at the different important benefits that any insurer or any employer could walk away from. Because if this amendment passes, they would have the right to do so. They would no longer have to cover emergency services, hospitalization, maternity care, mental health treatment, pediatric services, rehabilitative services, ambulatory patient services, laboratory services. They would no longer have to offer breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings. 

They would no longer have to offer abortion-inducing drugs.

All they have to do is say, oh, I am sorry, we believe prayer is the answer. 

Yes, some of us still believe in asking God for help.

We don't believe in chemotherapy. If someone is heavy and they are obese and they get diabetes, we have a moral objection to helping them because, you know what, they didn't lead a clean life. So they could deny any of these things--flu vaccines, osteoporosis screening, TB testing for children, autism screening.
   In conclusion, I urge my colleagues to vote down this dangerous amendment. Vote it down. We will have a motion to table, and I urge my colleagues to stand for the women and the families of this Nation and let's get back to the highway bill. Get rid of this thing.


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