Senator Marco Rubio Writes a Bill: The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

How weird has it gotten when a right that is codified in the law of the land, and firmly seared onto the nation’s psyche, has to be backed up by another bill? Well that is what we have come to.  The Huffington Post, and a whole host of other news agencies, has the scoop.

WASHINGTON — Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced a bill on Monday that would override the Obama administration’s new rule on birth control coverage and allow religious hospitals, universities, and other organizations that morally oppose contraception to refuse to cover it for their employees.

Churches and other places of worship are already exempt from the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate, which requires that most health plans cover contraception without a co-pay beginning on Aug. 1, 2013. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, S. 2043, would expand the refusal clause to include any employer who opposes contraception “on the basis of religious belief.”

“This is a common-sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so,” Rubio said in a statement.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and other major religious lobbying groups pushed hard against the birth control mandate, which insures that the vast majority of insured women in the country can easily afford birth control, arguing that it tramples on the constitutional right to religious liberty. Reproductive rights advocates contend that allowing certain employers to deny birth control coverage to women based on their own beliefs about contraception is unfair and discriminatory, and would have negative consequences for women’s health.

“This bill will ride roughshod over the rights of American citizens so that employers can discriminate against them and take personal matters of conscience into their own hands,” said Jon O’Brien, president of the advocacy group Catholics for Choice. “This is real government interference in the lives of citizens — not very Republican of [Rubio] in an election year to have government dictating what people should do in personal matters, especially since most Catholics use a method of contraception the bishops disagree with.”

Go read the rest. Of course, Deacon Greg scooped me on this one too. I love that guy!

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