Senate skips voting on contraception bill
Published: April 10, 2012 at 11:42 am
The Senate today skipped voting on legislation to allow employers with a religious objection to deny contraception coverage to their workers, which indicates that proponents have yet to persuade enough lawmakers to back the controversial proposal.
The bill was pulled from the calendar a minute before senators were scheduled to vote on it.
The measure could still be brought back for a second vote at any point.
Sen. Nancy Barto, R-Phoenix, a key ally of the pro-life movement, said supporters will try for a second vote tomorrow.
“It’s just a lot of questions on making sure that the language is going to do what the intention is,” Barto said, referring to the amendment supporters are preparing.
Today’s cancellation reflects the difficulties of convincing lawmakers to approve the bill with the promise that it would be substantially narrowed down shortly after.
Supporters need two senators two change their minds and vote “yes” in order for the measure to pass.
The bill’s backers had revived the measure after its defeat last month. They promised to tweak it so it would only apply to church-affiliated entities.
The plan is to make the change in a conference committee, where a select group of legislators will meet to approve a final language.
Critics have argued that the original proposal intrudes on women’s privacy, and favors the religious persuasions of employers without regard for women’s health.
Supporters countered that it is needed to protect the religious beliefs of business owners.
Earlier, assurances that women won’t be forced to disclose private medical information to their bosses failed to persuade the Senate to advance the proposal, leading supporters to promise to scale back their original intention of allowing any employer to not cover, over a religious objection, contraception in their workers’ health plan.