GOP adds 'conscience clause' to spending bill
September 28th, 2013
07:13 PM ET
10 months ago

GOP adds 'conscience clause' to spending bill

Washington (CNN) - House Republicans have added a measure aimed at limiting contraceptive coverage to the spending bill coming up for a vote Saturday night, a spokesman for Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas, told CNN.

A senior House leadership aide confirmed that development.

The so-called “conscience clause” would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women which they find objectionable on moral or religious grounds. That prominently includes birth control, which most insurers are required to provide for free under current Obamacare rules.


With this move, House Republican leaders would give any employer or group health plan the ability to opt out of contraception coverage for the next year. That time frame syncs up with the larger measure in which this is included: a one-year delay of Obamacare provisions not yet in effect.

“This is a big deal for the congressman,” Huelskamp’s spokesman, Paul Nelson, told CNN. “He has been pushing for (the conscience clause) since he entered Congress.”

Democrats say the measure is unnecessary because the administration has granted exemptions to contraceptive coverage to religious nonprofit institutions. But advocates, such as Huelskamp, insist that all institutions should be able to opt out of any preventative coverage for women that they find objectionable.

The addition of the “conscience clause” ties a heated social issue to the already sharp shutdown debate.

soundoff (269 Responses)
  1. pink hase

    When I went to sleep last night I was in America, when I woke this morning I realized I was actually in a 3rd world country where men have the right to tell women what to do and how to do it. Wake up women. This is the first step to try and keep us in line. Stop voting for this imbeciles. What is wrong with you people who elect these crazy people into office.

    September 29, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. cdub

    So were just giving insurance companies more loop holes? What was the point of the Affordable Healthcare act if you're just going to strip it down to nothing? And why did Republicans even vote for this bill in the first place-as it did pass a Republican house-if they were just going to use it to stall out the economy? I understand change is "bad", and that people are just destined to be poor sometimes, but are we not civilized enough to allow even the most down-trodden to have basic health coverage? How can a place such as Denmark have universal healthcare, little-to-no homeless, and a very strong middle class when we can't even get our own leaders to agree against economic self-destruction/suicide? Are we not suppose to be the leader in democracy? If so, why are places such as Sweden, Denmark, and Germany-hell, even Britain-ahead of us? Forget party lines and forget the current crop of politicians. We need change, no doubt, but we need change that's not based on a lie, and change that doesn't require throwing half of the country into poverty and under a bus.

    September 29, 2013 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  3. cosmo

    they have lost their minds

    September 29, 2013 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  4. Michigan_Joe

    How can any moral person suggest that your employer can tell you that they can deny to you coverage which is offered by law to the entire public based on his religious beliefs? These people can speak of religion but have no intent to follow or practice that which they spew.

    September 29, 2013 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  5. Theseus

    How esoterically subjective. This "conscience" he speaks of obviously has to be the CHRISTIAN "conscience", because the Bible is all there is in this world, right? Any politician talking about a conscience is already by definition a hypocrite.

    September 29, 2013 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  6. Patrish

    Tell me again how the Republicans care ANYTHING about women, or their health issues. Wonder why women lean toward Democrats? There's your answer.

    September 29, 2013 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  7. Anonymous

    The House of Republicans want us to think they are serious about moving this country forward by not shutting the government down? Oh, Rush, how well you've trained your lemmings.

    September 29, 2013 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  8. Justin

    A house of worship does not have to provide contraception if it violates its faith. Hobby Lobby is NOT a church, it is a business.

    September 29, 2013 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. ditdahdit

    Most employers find all expenses for employees, including wages, 'objectionable'. How did Repubs miss the chance to allow them to opt out of paying them altogether?

    September 29, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  10. Lauren

    Just yesterday I read a quote that the Republicans don't want government involvement in health care. Well, neither do the women in this country want the Republicans in their uterus. Why is draconian measures against women alright and the Affordable Care Act isn't? There is no place that the ACA is dictating medical procedures as the Repubs have been doing for the last few years. It's just a continuing effort for the ultra conservatives to put women back to the 50s when it comes to their health care – the 1850s. If any woman votes for these misogynistic men, she is more depraved than they are.

    September 29, 2013 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  11. thomasmc1957

    All Republicans ever do is break everything.

    September 29, 2013 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  12. Michael Smith

    The ultimate oxymoron: Republicans who want to cut food the poor, keep their lobbyist supplied wine and dine at Washington's finest, then deny a health coverage. The House Repugliklans have become a wantabe dictator agenda.

    September 29, 2013 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  13. Barbara

    Why are the GOP so willing to force millions of unwanted pregnancies through blocking payment for contraception and abortions, and so unwilling to allow spending for food, healthcare and education for these "accidental" children once they're born??

    September 29, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  14. johnrf

    Always time to fight a battle in their war against women even while they plot to destroy our country. I pledge to never vote for a republican for any office ever again.

    September 29, 2013 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  15. Marie MD

    I am listening to this horses's behind Canadian say that the "facts are these" re Obamacare.
    Verbatim, "right now we have a system where the rich and powerful, those with connection to the Obama administration they get spared some of the burdens of Obamacare. But those who are struggling, single moms and young people, people who are just trying to make it they don't get. . . Gregory had heard enough so he interrupted him. Thank you!
    This guy really thinks that the above is what the Democrats are about? This after taking away food stamps for millions of families? This guy needs to go and disappear in the AK tundra with that other imbecile!!
    Th teatards are afraid, very afraid that Obamacare will work. They don't even want to call it Obamacare anymore because they don't want something good to be attached to this president.
    from the Canadian. People need to get a job to have medical insurance and Obamacare, a law that doesn't go into full effect until this coming Tuesday is killing jobs.
    Can't continue to listen to this jack a$$ because throwing something at my TV will cost us money!!!!

    September 29, 2013 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Dori

    Ricki, I wish you were correct about the 2014 elections. The problem lies in the state legislatures, which gerrymandered congressional districts so that the more conservative areas would have a disproportionately large representation. The proof of that lies in the fact that the Senate, which is elected by a state as a whole, is majority Democrat. I don't recall the statistics from the 2012 election offhand (and can't look it up on this mobile device without losing everything I've already typed), but as I recall, the voting percentages for all Democratic candidates for the House was something well over 50%– I think around 55% or so. Therefore, the House is disproportionately Republican and Tea Party. That isn't, unfortunately, likely to change until after the next census in 2020, and the state legislatures are majority Democrat.

    So if you want a change in the House (and I sure do!!!), the most effective way to do it is to work for progressive candidates in your local state legislature.

    September 29, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. kbh

    OK, so they are against contraception and abortion. Sorry, can't have it both ways.

    September 29, 2013 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Snyphilis

    As usual the idiot Democrats and idiot Republicans can't get their stories straight. Both sides are idiotic.

    I agree with Republicans but not on religious grounds. Their approach in intolerable. Not covering "morally objectionable contraceptives" does not mean that those contraceptives won't be covered if they are used as a treatment for illness. If they are prescribed as treatment for painful and irregular periods and any number of other female health issues then it would be covered, as it has been. What I don't get is why Democrats think birth control pills should me mandatory to be covered when used LITERALLY as a recreactional drug. Why should my premium go up because you want to screw without a condom?

    September 29, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  19. Adam

    Great. I would also like a conscience clause added to my taxes going forward, as I am morally opposed to war and military action. Hence, I want none of my money being diverted to defense. Oh, it doesn't work that way? Funny how corporations and their CEOs are afforded rights not given to ordinary private citizens.

    September 29, 2013 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  20. JD

    "You may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land." (Leviticus 25)

    The Bible condones the enslavement of others, and if it's in the Bible it must be the right thing to do. I am looking forward to the day the GOP reinstates these types of family values. Please add slavery to the conscience clause ASAP.

    September 29, 2013 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  21. john

    Even if an employer does not cover contraceptives for his employees, he still pays for contraceptives, just not for his employees. His premiums go into a huge pot that services many policies, the vast majority of which cover contraceptives. If the goal is to have your employees share your religious beliefs, it would be wiser to do it during the hiring process with a religious screen.

    September 29, 2013 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  22. Arun

    People should be able to opt out of either government mandated insurance or with paying the penalty. Its just like most of the states where you have to show financial responsibility to register your car if you do not have auto insurance. The people opting out should either sign a "Living Will" that "no care should be provided to them until someone can deposit money for care; or have a bond to cover the expenses"; or deposit $1000 with fire department for ambulance, deposit money for few hours of emergency care with the hospital, etc... You get the point. The "Living Will" should also state that they or anyone on their behalf will not be allowed to sue if any care is not given due to lack of funds. Since they make this decision why should the tax payers be responsible for their care if they are not able to pay for the care.

    September 29, 2013 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  23. Robert Frixco

    This is getting so old.... Repubs please stop aleady. Enough is enough

    September 29, 2013 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  24. Gunderson

    Okey Dokey,
    Government fund everything yes? Why you want old Gunderson pay you Birth Control? Are thing that bad? Uh, yes appears so.

    September 29, 2013 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  25. CB FL

    The TGOP is losing the women vote the gay vote the Latino and Black vote now the veterans. The only thing left is old white men.

    September 29, 2013 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
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