Thirteen Catholic Senators Vote Against Religious Liberty

by Steven Ertelt | Washington, DC | | 3/1/12 1:53 PM

The Senate today voted against the Blunt Amendment that would have protected the rights of religious employers from having to pay for birth control and drugs that may cause abortions.

Although the Catholic Church and leading pro-life Catholic groups strongly supported the amendment and one Cardinal warned how the Obama HHS mandate might have devastating effects for Catholic health care — possibly shutting down hospitals — Catholic senators didn’t appear to get the message. Thirteen of them voted against the amendment.


Senators Mark Begich (Alaska, D)
Tom Harkin (Iowa, D)
Richard Durbin (Illinois, D)
Mary Landrieu (Louisiana, D)
John Kerry (Massachusetts, D)
Barbara Mikulski (Maryland, D)
Claire McCaskill (Missouri, D)
Robert Menendez (New Jersey, D)
Kirsten Gillibrand (New York, D)
Jack Reed (Rhode Island, D)
Pat Leahy (Vermont, D)
Maria Cantwell (Washington, D)
Patty Murray (Washington, D).

For these senators, it seems that free contraception is more important than the free exercise of religion.

The vote was 51 to 48.

I respect your viewpoint but I disagree on several (not all) points. First, religious liberty applies to all Americans, not just the ones who believe as we do. While certain things may be forbidden by one religion, others may believe just the opposite. My reasoning is that we don’t have the right to impose our beliefs on others by law, mandate, or social pressure. We should live so as to exemplify what we believe, but criticizing or legislating against religious freedom for others is against our Constitution.

As Catholics, we should understand persecution and should defend all human rights (including the right to reject what we believe). For people who don’t believe contraception is right and that abortion is wrong, they need not use either one–at least not in this country where religious freedom is protected. But to deny a right to others who believe differently is contrary to our religious freedom in this country. If we impose our beliefs on others, it’s only a matter of time until some other group imposes their beliefs on us. (Take for example, China which forbids couples from having more than one child.)

To me, the best way to lead is by example, not by law.

Only in America is a violation of your conscience considered “imposing your beliefs on others”. :mad:

But no one is proposing to forbid the use of contraception. No one is proposing to forbid the using of sterilization or the morning after pill. No Catholic employer has the power to do that now! Anyone, even Catholics, even employees of Catholic institutions, are able to use contraception, sterilization, or morning after pills, now!

The essence of freedom of religion is that the state cannot force a religious entity to violate its religious principles.

Can the HHS force Catholic employers to cover abortion? Euthanasia?
It hasn’t done it–yet–but it has that regulatory power.
Can it force Catholic employers to cover contraception, sterilization, morning after pills?
It has done that.

Once religious freedom begins to be eroded, none of us is safe. We will all have the state religion of total secularism imposed on us.

Isn’t what this whole thing about the simple fact that our religious liberty is being taken from us!! What exactly are you talking about. Your position can be summed up as follows: “All Catholics are doormats.”

Isn’t this vote, other groups imposing their beliefs on US!!! WAKE UP!!! YOUR RELIGIOUS LIBERTIES ARE BEING TRAMPLED!!!

The thing is, having a right to something and having a right to have it for free are two different things. If an employer doesn’t pay for a woman to have an abortion, it doesn’t mean her right to have one has been denied, it just means she’ll have to pay for it herself. Since the First Amendment, which came LONG before a right to contraceptives and abortions, guarantees that Congress cannot interfere with the freedom of an employer to practice his/her religion, it is a violation of the Constitution to require an employer to pay for services that are in direct violation of his/her religion. A woman employed by, say, a Catholic hospital still has the legal right to go purchase the pill or have an abortion, but she doesn’t have the right to demand her employer pay for it in violation of the Faith upon which the hospital was founded.

We have the right to all sorts of things in this country; but having a right to those things and having the right to require someone else to pay for them are two VERY different things.

I do find it interesting that there wasn’t this fuss over HMOs refusing to cover bone marrow transplants that would save the lives of leukemia patients, or health plans that didn’t cover reconstructive plastic surgery. People had a right to those things, too, yet we weren’t rushing to make sure their employers were footing the bill. But I suppose since they didn’t involve sex, they weren’t important enough to worry about.


The Republicans and Democrats are so partisan on this issue that it’s sad. What would have been nice is for one of these “Catholic” senators to make a proposal that could have actually been bi-partisan.

At this point IMHO, there is no such thing as a pro-life democrat…:frowning:

I also agree that “Only in America is a violation of your conscience considered ‘imposing your beliefs on others’”.

Free contraception is not a right.

What the HHS mandate is attempting to do is to make free contraception an entitlement.

You have the right to own a home. If I won’t buy your home for you, that is not denying you the right to home ownership. It is saying that a right is not an entitlement.

Does anyone care that our Constitution has just been trampled, that our ‘representatives’ own us lock stock and barrel, and have their foots upon our necks?

Oh, but it’s all about ‘not imposing your beliefs on others.’

How any faithful Catholic can vote for a Democrat is beyond me. They are truly the “anti Catholic Party”

Some people still think there is not a political division that matters greatly when it comes to Catholic teaching - there is - every Catholic Republican senator voted in support of the amendment, only 2 Democrat Catholic senators voted in support of the mandate. The Democrat party is not the party that supports life or religious liberty.

The Bishops of these 13 senators should have words with each of these senators after this.

The Democratic Party is one in which truth is rejected when it conflicts with its ideology.

LaRue, I ask this respectfully: what is your source for the statement that Catholics are trying to “deny a right” or "impose our beliefs’ on anyone? Who has actually come out and said that BC should be outlawed? A direct quote would be helpful.

Please don’t think I’m picking on you or attacking you. I just think this issue is greatly misunderstood and it’s being misunderstood due to how the media is presenting it.

One of the big problems with this whole thing is that a majority of people calling themselves Catholic use and/or are OK with birth control. It’s hard for people who don’t care either way to see that religious rights are being trampled when they know many of the people who adhere to that religion BOTH USE AND APPROVE OF BIRTH CONTROL.

And don’t use the “faithful” “true” Catholics line. The church claims a billion members and some 60 million in the U.S. They are Catholic whether they’re following the letter of the law or not. And that’s what the rest of the population at large sees.

**Catholics Vote Against Their Own **

If you do the math 11 Catholics in the Senate voted for conscience protections and 13 voted against. A majority of the Catholics in the Senate voted against conscience protections for their Church institutions and the religious liberty of all Americans.

Catholics defeated the Blunt amendment.

Read more:

More urgently - the religious liberty of your children and your neighbors is being eradicated.

Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink,

"They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

"He will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

Perhaps we do not esteem our own selves enough to object to being oppressed by the State, but we sell our neighbors and children into bondage at the peril of our souls.

  • Marty Lund


You fail to understand is the difference between Negative and Positive rights.

Negative rights impose a duty on others to leave you alone. For example, the right to the free exercise of religion and freedom of speech are both negative rights.

Positive rights are rights to receive certain benefits from others. For example, the right to free contraception or free tuition are both Positive rights because it confers certain benefits.

Negative and Positive rights are very different.

Positive rights are based upon an idealized and ideological concept of human interaction. That there must be an agreement between all parties for the imposition of Positive rights.

Negative rights are based upon inalienable rights endowed by our Creator. You posses Negative right by the fact that you are a person. Negative rights are universal.

If you examine the US Constitution, this nation is founded upon Negative rights.

And until the appearance activist jurisprudence in recent years, American laws were all based upon Negative rights.

Using Negative Right, the question here is -

  1. “Can government impose a right to free contraception upon someone else when it violates a deeply held religious belief?”

  2. “Is government allowed to exercise such power?”

I would argue no to both question.

  1. There is nothing inherent to being a person that allows that right.

  2. It violates the Constitution for government to impose any form of Positive rights upon the people.

So this debate is about the very fundamental nature of our country.

Regarding Catholic imposing their beliefs.

Understand Catholics are not asking for a Positive Right. Catholics are not asking that their beliefs be imposed upon other people, that people forgo contraception.

Catholics are asking for a Negative Right. To not be forced to grant someone else a benefit that would violate their conscious.

Put simply, Catholics are asking to be left alone.

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