Sen. Murkowski: Given another chance, I'd vote against Blunt Amendment limiting contraception

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Blunt’s amendment would have allowed employers to opt out of any coverage mandate of the healthcare reform law on moral or religious grounds. The Senate voted to table the amendment 51-48, with Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine) the only Republican to vote to kill the measure. Three Democrats voted in favor of Blunt’s bill.

The measure was offered amid great controversy over the Obama contraception mandate, which requires all employers to provide birth control in their health plans without a co-pay or deductible.

The rule exempted churches and houses of worship, and under pressure the White House offered an “accommodation” that allows entities affiliated with religious groups, such as Catholic universities and hospitals, not to offer the birth control. However, employees of those groups must be able to get contraception from their employer’s insurer without a co-pay or deductible.


Critics say this remains a violation of religious liberty, and Murkowski said her vote reflected her desire for a stronger clause for religious freedom.

Murkowski was reelected in 2010 as an independent after she lost to a Tea Party challenger in the Republican primary.

Since returning to the Senate, she has sometimes evinced that independent streak.

Democrats have worked to frame the fight over the contraception mandate as a battle over women’s rights, and not religious freedom. They have been aided in that effort by the controversial comments of conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh, who called a Georgetown law student who backs the mandate a "slut" and a "prostitute."

Democrats have been trying to tie the remarks to the GOP while a number of top Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill have denounced the comments. Limbaugh apologized for the remarks over the weekend.