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Senate defeats bid to pass 'Rights of Conscience' bill

March 01, 2012

The US Senate has narrowly defeated legislation that would have rescinded the Obama administration’s mandate requiring coverage of contraception in health-care plans.

By a vote of 51 to 48, the Senate rejected the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The bill had been introduced by Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri as an amendment to an unrelated transportation bill.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been strongly recommending passage of the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act. The defeat of the “Blunt amendment” suggests that the bill’s prospects for success are poor.

Of the 24 Catholics in the Senate, only 11 supported the Blunt amendment, while 13 voted against it. Among those Catholics, all of the Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. Two Catholic Democrats—Senators Bob Casey, Jr. of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia—joined with a non-Catholic, Senator Ben Nelson of Wisconsin, as the only Democrats to support the conscience-protection legislation.

These Catholic legislators voted against the Blunt amendment:

  • Senator Mark Begich, Democrat, of Alaska
  • Senator Maria Cantwell, Democrat, of Washington
  • Senator Richard Durbin, Democrat, of Illinois
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat, of New York
  • Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat, of Iowa
  • Senator John Kerry, Democrat, of Massachusetts
  • Senator Mary Landrieu, Democrat, of Louisiana
  • Senator Pat Leahy, Democrat, of Vermont
  • Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat, of Missouri
  • Senator Robert Menendez, Democrat, of New Jersey
  • Senator Patty Murray, Democrat, of Washington
  • Senator Barbara Mikulski, Democrat, of Maryland
  • Senator Jack Reed, Democrat, of Rhode Island

These Catholic legislators voted for the Blunt amendment:

  • Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican, of New Hampshire
  • Senator Bob Casey Jr, Democrat, of Pennsylvania
  • Senator Susan Collins, Republican, of Maine
  • Senator John Hoeven, Republican, of North Dakota
  • Senator Mike Johanns, Republican, of Nebraska
  • Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat, of West Virginia
  • Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican, of Alaska
  • Senator James Risch, Republican, of Idaho
  • Senator Marco Rubio, Republican, of Florida
  • Senator Pat Toomey, Republican, of Pennsylvania
  • Senator David Vitter, Republican, of Louisiana


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  • Posted by: claire5327 - Mar. 01, 2012 7:05 PM ET USA

    when a country is without a conscience that country will die; Satan's heart has no conscience, thus, those f who follows It is also without one. Do cry for our lost of Virtue of the first step, a conscience!

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 01, 2012 5:53 PM ET USA

    We are reaping as we have sowed in the past 50 years: the rise of the pseudo-Catholic warring against the Church from within while the Church continues with a crisis of bishops.