Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bluntly speaking, it's a little late for regrets

Remember the notorious Blunt-Rubio amendment that the Senate voted on last week? If you've erased it from your memory chip already, let me just remind you: It would have allowed employers to exclude insurance coverage for any type of medical procedure from their group policies for employees if they had "moral objections" to that procedure. Thus, if an employer objected on moral grounds to some doctor poking around in the butts of their employees, they could have excluded coverage for colonoscopies.

Of course, colonoscopies were not the target of Roy Blunt and his gang. Their target was women and contraception, but the amendment was written so broadly that it could have applied to anything.

When the amendment came up for a vote, every single Republican in the Senate, with the exception of Olympia Snowe, voted for it. (Snowe had just announced a few days earlier that she was retiring. If she had been running again, I'm guessing that she, too, would have voted for it.) Those voting in favor of the measure included women senators such as Susan Collins, Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Lisa Murkowski. Traitors to their sex, all of them.

After the vote, Murkowski went home to Alaska where she got an earful from her constituents who were not at all happy with her support for allowing employers to arbitrarily exclude coverage for contraception. Murkowski was shocked, shocked! Apparently, she had expected to be greeted as a hero because of her vote. She now says that on hearing from her constituents and on reconsidering the issue, she regrets her vote! If she had it to do over again, she says she would not vote the way she did.

Well, she can't have a do-over, but luckily for Murkowski her Democratic colleagues in the Senate saved her by voting down the amendment, so she won't have to face the consequences of her vote. Except when she runs for election again, let us hope that those angry constituents will remember that on this issue, she was on the side of people like Rush Limbaugh and Rick Santorum, and let us fervently hope that they will hold her accountable for that.

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