The Senate rejected the Republican effort to scale back President Obama’s birth control mandate today by a narrow margin.
Outgoing Republican Senator Olympia Snowe, who announced plans to retire earlier this week, voted with Democrats to kill the Blunt Amendment, 51-48.
Three Democrats also strayed from party lines, voted in favor of limiting Obama’s contraception policy: Senators Bob Casey, Joe Manchin and Ben Nelson. Both Casey and Manchin are up for re-election, and this vote will likely serve as a litmus test for Dems and Republicans this fall.
The measure would have allowed employers and health plans to opt out of paying for medical services based on religious beliefs or moral objections.
Democrats argued this proposal went too far, and could leave the door open to employers blocking other kinds of coverage on a whim. Republicans said the Obama administration’s contraception rule under the new health care law violates religious freedoms.
“This is an important victory,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “Today’s vote says that your boss won’t be able to decide which prescriptions you can get filled and which medical procedures you can have.”