U.S. lawmakers have narrowly rejected a bid to reverse a part of
President Barack Obama's health care reform law that focused on birth
The Democratic-controlled Senate defeated a Republican measure by a vote
of 51-48. It sought to allow employers and insurers to opt out of parts
of the law they found morally objectionable.
The focus was a provision of the health care reform law that requires
almost all employers who provide health insurance to cover the cost of
groups, including Roman Catholic bishops in the United States, have
strongly objected to the law, saying it would force them to violate
their beliefs and provide birth control for employees at religiously
affiliated institutions, like hospitals and universities.
Supporters of the amendment said no religious organization should be
forced to violate the tenets of their faith. Opponents said the
amendment would have allowed employers and insurers to deny coverage for
any medical treatment for any reason.
Last month, President Obama sought to ease controversy over the birth
control requirement by announcing religiously-affiliated institutions
would not be forced to pay for contraception. Instead, he said health
insurers will be required to offer women free birth control directly
when their employers have religious objections.