February 29, 2012

To:     Members of the U.S. Senate

From: Elisabeth MacNamara, President

Re:     Oppose Sex Discrimination, Oppose the Blunt-Rubio Amendment

The League of Women Voters is strongly opposed to the Blunt-Rubio amendment which would block contraceptive services and discriminate against women. 

It is our understanding that the Senate will soon vote on this amendment that would limit access to contraceptive services for women if any employer or insurance plan has a “religious or moral objection” to it.  The League of Women Voters believes that all persons, regardless of gender, should be eligible for health services under the Affordable Care Act, and that failure to do so is discrimination based on sex. 

But the amendment by Senators Blunt and Rubio actually goes even farther.  If an employer or insurance plan has any ill-defined “religious or moral objection,” then a health care service can be excluded from coverage from the Affordable Care Act, our nation’s historic new health care law which aims to ensure quality health care for all. 

The Blunt-Rubio amendment would turn back the clock for women.  It attempts to seriously undermine and undercut the very premise of the Affordable Care Act that all Americans should have access health care coverage.   Allowing employers and insurance plans to pick and choose what should be covered will not only lead to discrimination against women, it will shred the essential protections we fought so hard for in health care reform. 

The League of Women Voters has a long-standing interest in programs and policies that provide access to health care for all residents of the United States.  Since 1992, when League members studied the issue of health care, we have worked for comprehensive health care coverage for all Americans.  The League also has a strong commitment to the concept that public policy in a pluralistic society must affirm the right of privacy of the individual to make reproductive choices. 

In addition, the League is concerned that in the area of reproductive health care, both the Blunt-Rubio amendment and the most recent proposed regulation by HHS would limit access to preventive health services including contraception for women.  The League of Women Voters opposes exemptions that would allow public institutions, including schools and hospitals that receive substantial federal assistance to fail to provide full health insurance under the ACA to their female employees, including contraceptive services.

The Blunt-Rubio amendment should be soundly rejected by the Senate.  It would deny Americans access to needed health care coverage based on ill-defined religious or moral objections.  We urge you to stand up for women’s rights and to vote against it.

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