By Justin Sink - 02/29/12 09:11 PM EST
The California Democrat suggested that employers or insurers could exploit the opt-out clause to effectively avoid providing care.
“Let’s say you worked for someone who believes prayer is the answer to all diseases — you wouldn’t have any insurance,” Boxer said. “It is a radical departure from what we’ve always done in this country, which is to give a conscience clause to all religious institutions and all religiously affiliated institutions.”
Boxer went on to criticize Republicans for trying to attach the legislation to a transportation funding bill.
“Here’s the thing I want America to understand — we are on a highway bill, a transportation bill, a bill that has come out of four committees with bipartisanship support. [There are] 2.8 million jobs ... at stake.”
The amendment is not likely to pass in the Senate, controlled by Democrats, although centrists in the chamber have signaled support for either it or a more -narrow version proposed by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). Centrist GOP Sen. Scott Brown (Mass.), locked in a tough reelection battle, defended the amendment in comments earlier this week.
“If there’s any language or something we need to tweak, a couple of words, great, but to just be an ideologue and not even address the situation and just let the federal government come and tell people what they can and can’t do, it’s wrong,” Brown said in an interview with New England Cable News.
But Boxer dismissed the proposal as extreme.
“They’re just radical and they’re going after women’s health, and that’s the truth,” Boxer said.
She went on to point out that Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine), who announced Tuesday her plans to retire from the upper chamber, was also refusing to back the bill.
“When you have Sen. Snowe saying what she did, and she’s a [centrist] Republican, the last of a wonderful breed of people I’ve worked with for many years on many issues, saying these polarizing issues have no place in these debates, she’s absolutely right,” Boxer said.