The Senate today defeated a GOP effort to roll back President Obama's policy on contraception insurance coverage, the first vote on an issue that raised questions of religious and women's rights in this volatile election year. The 51-48 vote killed an amendment from Republican Roy Blunt that would have allowed employers and insurers to opt out of portions of the health care law they found morally objectionable. That would have included the law's requirement that insurers cover birth control.
"We have never had a conscience clause for insurance companies," said Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif. The measure would have given insurers more opportunities to deny coverage for certain treatments, she added. "A lot of them don't have any consciences. They'll take it." Republicans argued that the law needs to be reversed because it violates the First Amendment's guarantee of religious freedom by forcing insurers and employers to pay for contraception even if their faith forbids its use. Click to read about Mitt Romney's stutter-step on the issue. (Read more Blunt amendment stories.)