Sen. Scott Brown (R-MA) is invoking a big name, in explaining his co-sponsorship of Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-MO) push for a moral-convictions exemption from provisions of the federal health care reform law — a response to the Obama Administration’s contraception insurance mandates. Brown says he simply has the same position as the late Democratic Sen. Ted Kennedy.
In an interview Tuesday with Greg Sargent, Warren called it an “extreme measure” and an attack on health care: “It opens the door to outright discrimination. It would let insurance companies and corporations cut off pregnant women, overweight guys, older Americans, or anyone — because some executive claims it’s part of his moral code. Maybe that wouldn’t happen, but I don’t want to take the chance.”
Then on Wednesday, in an interview on New England Cable News, Brown defended his position.
“I think it’s in line with what Senator Kennedy and I have fought for, and I have a history in the state Senate of voting for” Brown said, “to allow religious organizations to have — and people — to have that conscience objection exemption, to allow them to practice their faith. It’s one of the cornerstones of our Constitution, to allow for the religious freedoms.”
According to the Associated Press, the citation of Kennedy is based on a letter that the late senator wrote to Pope Benedict XVI in 2009, in the months before his death from brain cancer. Among many other points in the letter, Kennedy discussed President Obama’s push for national health care reform, and stated his own advocacy for “a conscience protection for Catholics in the health field” in the context of his staunch support for the overall bill.
Interestingly though, later in the NECN interview, Brown stated his opposition to “Obamacare” and his support of efforts to repeal it, and insisted that it is different from what was done in the health care reform law in Massachusetts.
In the NECN interview, host Jim Braude examined the specific language of Blunt’s bill.
“I read the introduction to this bill today. And it doesn’t just say religious beliefs — it says ‘moral convictions,’” Braude said. “So where is she wrong? It seems to me that’s a loophole you could drive a truck through, no?”
“Jim, you know as well as I do, that’s a red herring,” Brown replied. “The bottom line is, if anything like that happened in Massachusetts, people would obviously be sued.”
Brown also went on to invoke the name of his past opponent in the special election: “This reminds me very much of what Martha Coakley did. Remember when she said, hey, if you don’t agree with these things and you’re a Catholic working in an emergency room, why don’t you find another job? I have the same position as Senator Kennedy. And Professor Warren, quite frankly, I’m shocked that she would be so divisive, to pit women against their faith and their church, and also, you know, put an attack on the Catholic Church and other religious organizations.”