Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is continuing to joust with Democrats on the Obama administration’s contraception mandates on health insurance — and not just with his Democratic opponent, former White House financial reform adviser Elizabeth Warren. The latest Dem to step up to challenge Brown on the issue, the Boston Herald reports: Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), son of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy whose old seat Brown won in the January 2010 special election. The younger Kennedy’s demand: Stop invoking my dad’s name.
Brown’s answer: Nope.
Brown is a sponsor of the bill put forward by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), to excuse employers and insurance companies from mandates with which they differ on an issue of moral conviction. Warren has in turn charged that the Republican bill would provide a loophole for an employer to deny many different kinds of health care coverage. Brown has denied the accusation, and said that the proposal is needed in order to protect religious freedom.
And along the way, Brown has invoked the name of Ted Kennedy. And last week, he expanded that usage to a new radio ad.
“Like Ted Kennedy before me, I support a conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of faith,” Brown says in the radio ad. I believe it’s possible to provide people with access to the health care they want, while at the same time protecting the rights of Americans to follow their religious beliefs. For me, the conscience exemption is a matter of fundamental fairness - and a right to be protected for all Americans, of every party and every faith.”
Key quote from Patrick Kennedy’s letter, in which he asked Brown to take down the ad, explaining that his father’s support of a conscience exemption was meant for doctors and other care providers — not for employers and insurance companies:
My father believed that health care providers should be allowed a conscience exemption from performing any service that conflicted with their faith. That’s what was in his 1995 law and what he referenced to the Pope. That is completely different than the broad language of the Blunt Amendment that will allow any employer, or even an insurance company, to use vague moral objections as an excuse to refuse to provide health care coverage. My father never would have supported this extreme legislation.
You are entitled to your own opinions, of course, but I ask that, moving forward, you do not confuse my father’s positions with your own. I appreciate the past respect you have expressed for his legacy, but misstating his positions is no way to honor his life’s work.
But Brown is standing by his ad. A key quote from Brown’s response letter:
When your father told the Pope in his 2009 letter that he supported a conscience exemption for Catholics in health care, he did not mean to put himself on the opposite side of the church or to suggest that he would force them to accept a situation with which they could not abide. And yet, that is exactly the situation we are faced with today — despite a failed attempt at compromise, the church remains opposed to the federal government’s intrusion into the affairs of private conscience. I’d like to think your dad would have been working with me to find an accommodation that all sides found satisfactory. One thing I know he would not do is demagogue the issue, or inflame passions against the church, as Elizabeth Warren has done. It is simply wrong to set one group of Americans against another over religion.