All but three Senate Republicans voted today to block legislation preventing employers from imposing their religious views on workers who want access to contraception.
The 56-43 vote failed to end a Republican filibuster against the “Not My Boss’s Business Act.” That bill would overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling in June that allows for-profit companies to refuse, for religious reasons, to include birth control in health insurance coverage for the women who work for them.
Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic Majority Leader, switched his vote to “no,” a parliamentary move that would allow him to bring the measure back for a vote later this year.
Before the vote, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz sent out a press release attacking the bill. Under the inflammatory headline “Democrats Declare War on the Catholic Church,” Cruz accused the bill’s supporters of trampling on the rights of Catholics who oppose birth control:
“(I)t saddens me that there are not 100 senators here unified, regardless or our faith, standing together protecting the religious liberty rights of everyone.”
Well, it saddens us that Cruz and his supporters are turning the concept of religious freedom on its head. Allowing employers to impose their religious beliefs on the deeply personal decisions their workers make fundamentally redefines religious freedom. In effect, it holds a woman’s personal decisions about whether and when to have children hostage to the religious dictates of her employer. That’s not religious freedom.
In addition, earlier this year a poll showed that 78 percent of Roman Catholics worldwide said they supported the use of birth control. A 2013 poll from Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project found similar support — 76 percent — among U.S. Catholics.