On Thursday, the Senate shot down a Republican attempt to overturn President Obama's requirement that almost all employers offer their workers health insurance that covers birth control and sterilization. One Republican, Sen. Olympia Snowe (Maine), joined all but three Democrats in the 51-48 vote to table Sen. Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) amendment, which would have allowed employers and health insurers to refuse to cover contraceptives — or anything else they object to — on moral or religious grounds. Does the Blunt amendment's close defeat, coupled with the lack of action in the House, signal an end to the polarizing fight over "something that is hardly the top issue to American voters," or will conservatives be back with another challenge?
Conservatives won't quit — nor should they: "Democrats managed to wrangle enough votes to table the Blunt amendment" this time, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, but only after "a lot of ridiculous spin" over how this is a fight for birth control. It's not. Instead, this fight "has everything to do with allowing people to freely practice their religion without interference from government," and that's too important for conservatives to give up on. "Clearly, this issue isn't going away."
"Senate kills Blunt amendment on religious conscience exemption..."
It's time for Republicans to give up: "Democrats seem eager to fight over the proposal," says Steve Benen at The Maddow Blog. And with 63 percent of the public siding with Obama, it's no wonder many Republicans are "looking for an escape hatch that doesn't exist." GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney got tripped up trying to duck the issue, while the Obama camp is putting it front and center. "You can tell a lot about the salience of a political fight by which side is most eager to talk about it." The GOP should quit before they get even farther behind.
"Dems eager for Blunt Amendment fight"
Going forward, it's all about spin: With both sides convinced they have a winning hand, "don't expect the issue to go away," says Mark Silk at Religion News Service. But sadly, don't expect "a reasoned public discussion about how best to balance religious liberty against other rights and interests," either. This is now a fight about framing the fight. "There's a species of genius" in Blunt's push to paint "ObamaCare as anti-religion," but it will only work if Republicans can convince voters that their party isn't anti-contraception.
"The Blunt wedge"
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