Missouri's senators at odds on contraception coverage

Feb 13, 2012

The Obama administration continues to come under fire for a rule that would make religious organizations cover contraceptives under employees' health care plans. A compromise announced on Friday has not placated the president's critics, including members of Missouri's congressional delegation.

Under the compromise President Obama announced on Friday, contraception would still be covered, but it would be paid for by health insurance companies, rather than religious organizations. Missouri's Republican Senator, Roy Blunt, who has been a vocal critic of the administration's rule, said the compromise still tramples religious freedom.

"I think their final decision violates exactly the same first-amendment line that the first regulation did. It shouldn't matter who's paying for a service if a faith-based institution doesn't believe it's within their faith principles to provide it."

Blunt is sponsor of a bill that would exempt coverage of contraceptives based on religious beliefs.

But Claire McCaskill, Missouri's Democratic senator, said it's not about religious freedom, but about making sure all women have access to affordable birth control.

"I think this is being used as a political wedge football, and frankly I think some of them are out of touch with some of the women in this state who understand how important that availability of birth control is."

A poll conducted by Fox News last week found 61 percent of respondents favored Obama's initial rule. The rule is part of the health reform law, which requires insurance plans to include free preventive care, but has run into strong opposition from religious groups, especially Catholic bishops.