Pennsylvania Senators Toomey, Casey Agree: Birth Control is Bad and Should be Denied
Today, the Blunt Amendment—introduced by Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri, which would exempt any employer with moral objections from covering birth control in their health care plans—was shot down in the Senate, by a 51-48 vote. Considering this is the year 2012, AD, that vote probably sounds a bit too close for comfort. And if it does, blame yourself. Your U.S. Senate representation made it that way.
Pennsylvania’s Senatorial duo, Bob Casey (D) and Pat Toomey (R) voted in favor of the Blunt Amendment and therefore, we conclude, support the greater conservative War on Women. Which is fine. War can’t proceed without two sides!
Sen. Toomey took to Twitter shortly after the vote and wrote, “I voted to protect our constitutional right of conscience today.” The Tweet included a link to a press release on Toomey’s website, in which he stated:
“Despite President Obama’s so-called accommodation, I am extremely concerned that this regulation would force religious employers to violate their religious beliefs in order to keep their doors open…Sen. Blunt’s bipartisan amendment alleviates this problem and upholds one’s constitutional right of conscience.”
And Sen. Bob Casey? He tried to defend himself, too. But not on Twitter, and not on his website, and it made less sense. “As I have made clear continuously, I strongly support contraceptives and have voted to provide funding for family planning but I also believe that religiously-affiliated institutions should not be forced by the government to violate their beliefs,” he said, not noting Obama’s compromise from a few weeks back got rid of that particular provision. “It does not go far enough to ensure that this ruling doesn’t infringe upon religious liberties. I am hopeful that the Administration now recognizes the imperative of clarifying the rule to ensure that it protects religious liberties while making contraceptive insurance available.”
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee called the Blunt Amendment “anti-woman” and “radical.”
Twitter is a bit abuzz about Casey’s vote. One user says Casey “needs a Democratic female challenger.” (Not possible at this point.) Another writes: “Interesting thing about Bob Casey being one of the Dems to vote for Blunt Amendment: He’s the senator who beat Santorum in ‘06.” (That is interesting.) Another: “Senator Bob Casey, you are a joke.” (He is!)
As Casey’s mentioned in the past, while he may be anti-choice, he’s not a monster: he’s in favor of contraception and based his Title X votes around that single issue. As of last night, he said he wasn’t sure where his vote on the Blunt Amendment would be. But now that he’s figured out his stance, he’s got the blessing of both Life News and his potential Republican challenger, Steve Welch, who wrote earlier, “Today, Sen. Bob Casey took Welch’s advice and voted for repeal of the mandate.”
While this has become a controversial issue stemming from the Catholic Church (and included Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput) many Democrats have stood their ground on the matter, and polls show the majority of Americans agree with them. Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon made the point that if employers can deny birth control coverage based on their “conscious,” what else could they deny? “The Blunt amendment would allow a C.E.O. to say, ‘We are not going to cover end-of-life care’ because of a conviction that such care is interfering with God’s will. It would allow employers to deny access to obesity programs because they believe that obesity results from a moral failing,” he told the New York Times.
On the other hand, yesterday radio host Rush Limbaugh claimed a woman who was set to testify on behalf of birth control coverage is a “slut” and “prostitute.” Perhaps Sen. Casey agrees with this assessment? It’s hard to tell, but they’re at least on the same side.
In Casey’s defense, this is par for the course with him: Vote whichever way the wind is blowing, or at least the way the ever-present Pennsylvania Swing Vote sends its balloons. Lastly, and to defend him further, we’re not going to call Casey a flip-flopper. That would assume he once held a position.