In a "hail mary" pass on International Women's Day, all 12 Democratic women in the Senate sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asking him to abandon his plans to continue the Senate GOP's recent fight against contraception coverage in the House.
"We are asking that you abandon the promise you have made to bring legislation to the House floor similar to the Blunt amendment, which was defeated in the Senate last week, and which would turn the clock back on women's access to health care," the senators, led by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), wrote. "At a time when 99 percent of sexually active women in the U.S. have used birth control, its role in the lives of women and their families is hard to understate. ... That is why the recent Republican attacks on birth control access have been so eye-opening for American women. For most American women, the battle over contraception was settled a half century ago."
After the Senate last week voted down Sen. Roy Blunt's (R-Mo.) amendment, which would have allowed any employer with moral objections to opt out of covering birth control or any other kind of health service, Boehner vowed to continue the fight in the House.
"I think it's important for us to win this issue," he said. "And there are a lot of ways to do that. There's one in the Senate. We have a couple in the House. It's matter of how we proceed."
Legislation has already been introduced in the House that would roll back the Obama administration's new contraception rule requiring most employers to cover birth control with no co-pay for their employees. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry's (R-Neb.) Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, the companion bill to the Blunt Amendment, already has 220 cosponsors.
But the GOP's attempts to limit women's birth control coverage are not going over well with voters. According to a new poll by EMILY's List, 60 percent of voters oppose the Blunt Amendment. Nearly half of respondents, including 40 percent of Republicans asked, said they would be less likely to vote for a candidate if he or she supported the Blunt Amendment.
"Women have had enough," the Democratic women wrote in the letter. "As we have heard from countless women in our home states and here on Capitol Hill, they are tired of being targets for a political strategy that endangers their health care and they want it to stop. We hope that you can answer their calls, and ours. It's time for you to put an end to the attacks on women's health care and to work with the Senate to get back to the American people's top priority: creating jobs and boosting our economy."
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