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

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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. Zerubbabel

    How so self righteous of the congressman, hypocrite. He is so willing to adhere to his religious dictates, but neglect the commands of the Man he claims to follow. A Man who healed all that came to him of diuers diseases, who told His followers to go and heal the sick, a Man who by His stripes we are healed. Judge not lest you be judged, condemn not lest you be condemned.

    September 29, 2013 09:09 am at 9:09 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Sweet! Now the CEO can say he's a Christian Scientist and that no healthcare can be supplied!

    September 29, 2013 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  3. Manuel J.

    There are businesses that have a religious leanings FOR YEARS. Yet, Obama wants to force these businesses to go against their values (e.g. Hobby Lobby). In short, I don't see anything wrong with this part of the legislation.

    September 29, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  4. hefty

    Sweet. Now a CEO can say he's a Christian Scientist and that no healthcare can be supplied. Problem solved!

    September 29, 2013 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  5. penguin

    If my religion opposes medical treatment, by Republican's logic, I should be allowed to not provide medical insurance to my employees. Why can't Republican's let God judge peoples moral choices?

    September 29, 2013 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  6. Blackacre

    Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kansas has spoken for a fatwa and the GOP has agreed. The American Taliban is in full rise. I would rather see a shutdown than give in to this type of political/social/religious right wing blackmail. The GOP has become a very very scary political party, a party of morality police.

    September 29, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  7. JD

    Funny how no one seems to have any religious objections to erectile dysfunction drugs being prescribed to unmarried men.

    September 29, 2013 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. southernbutnotstupid

    You guys just don't get it – contraception? That issue is so over or so I thought – my brother is a doper redneck who is probably an atheist who always brags about his conquests but LOVES his guns so just recently proclaimed his objections to having his taxpayer money going to buy birth control pills – I guess he won't mind paying child support for more children then - such a lemming!!
    I wouldn't vote for a modern day Republican for anything and I used to so exclusively until they let the lunatics run the asylum–

    September 29, 2013 09:25 am at 9:25 am |
  9. COHighlander

    Conscience Clause??? Where was that when the republican liars were warmongering about Iraq??

    September 29, 2013 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  10. Tony

    Obamacare affects only people without insurance, by requiring them to get private insurance or pay a fine. The fine only applies to people who can afford insurance but choose not to. The poor get government assistance to buy private insurance, or get Medicaid. In contrast, a government default harms everyone, by raising the interest rate, which makes it harder for government to pay back the national debt and businesses to get loans, and making government guarantees on things like Social Security worthless. Think, people. What good is the government's promise to pay Social Security benefits if it defaults (in other words, it cannot honor its obligations)?

    September 29, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  11. sam

    My religion is against war and guns. Can we get some legislation on those or are the houses religious beliefs the only ones that matter?

    September 29, 2013 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  12. sam

    Timothy 2:11-12 states that women should be quiet and subservient to men, and must never hold authority over a man... Is there some way we businesses can get legislation to protect this religious belief?

    September 29, 2013 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  13. Huhreally

    "opt out of any preventative coverage for women that they find objectionable."
    If any of you people out there actually support this. Than you are part of what is fast becoming the American version of the Taliban. Why would any one want to block women from getting preventative care? What is wrong with you people?

    September 29, 2013 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  14. Me 3

    Where conscience should come in is this. If your daughter does not want to use contraception, fine. However, stop trying to force your Southern Baptist sharia law on the rest of us. For one thing, these people are hypocrites. How may nut job holier-than-thou pasters have been revealed to be closet weirdos. They cannot live up to their own standards.

    September 29, 2013 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  15. Evergreen

    I have tried to keep an open mind and remain non-partisan over the past few years but the GOP has finally thrown me under the bus. They have lost this woman's vote forever.

    September 29, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  16. Paul

    Are all of the leaves off of the trees in DC? The picture shows that fall has arrived.

    September 29, 2013 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  17. crjcurrie

    "Preventative care." Love the newspeak. A child is not a disease.

    September 29, 2013 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  18. jksu2

    All religious freedom needs to be preserved in this country. Sikhs, Jews, Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Jain, Buddhists, all need protections in this land. This is the correct move to put a law on the books.

    September 29, 2013 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  19. Jesse

    I wish the Reps would pass a “conscience clause” and opt out of Congress so the country can finally start moving forward at the pace it's supposed to.

    September 29, 2013 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  20. unretired05

    Are the Congressmen treating women as a Muslim would?

    September 29, 2013 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  21. Name Kevin

    A conscience clause really????

    September 29, 2013 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  22. Liz the First

    it's not up to insurance companies and employers to tell women they can't have contraception! this is just another front on the republican war on women. the only way for this madness to end is for women as a whole to stop supporting our oppressors! republicans are only in office anywhere because there are women dumb enough to vote for them. it's like the battered woman who can't bear to leave her abusive husband.

    September 29, 2013 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  23. Keep Fear ALive

    Oh Good ... another pet item, 'Hobby Horse" to deny people the decency of private coverage... only a "Male Republican" would decide that the decisions a woman needs to make regarding her body, should be decided behind the mahogany desk of a man in a congressional suit ......

    September 29, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. Kelcy

    He's an idiot. As are all who are willing to fall on their sword over this. Doctors will put in the records (and on the scripts) that the BCP are being used not for contraception but to regulate otherwise irregular period, to minimize PMS symptoms, to minimize the pain of severe cramps, hot flashes, etc and so forth. Not to mention the treatment of polycystic ovarian syndrome. Those are all medically legitimate reasons for prescribing BCP...... or better termed estrogen/progesterone therapy.

    And certainly if there is to be a "conscience" clause then he should have put in that all businesses could specify that insurance obtained through Their companies could deny pharmaceuticals for anything that the company president or board deems to be outside their personal value system. For instance, a woman CEO could deny coverage for any of the ED pills under the belief that what god takes away should not be given back artificially. I personally subscribe to that one (or at the very least only prescribed after private consultation with the wife to ensure that their bedroom life supports the little blue pill.....maybe he really wants it for his affairs). Or perhaps it is a health conscience company that believes you should only eat healthily and should exercise every day so no cholesterol lowering drugs or blood pressure lowering drugs......that should all be done only via diet and exercise.

    If you are going to claim a conscience clause it should cover anyone's conscience and not just some.

    September 29, 2013 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  25. Ricki

    Once again, the GOP go after basic personal rights of women to decide the course for their own lives and their own health. Here we go again having to fight old battles we thought we were beyond. Notice men's personal health decisions aren't part of this bill. Look out GOP.....2014 is right around the corner! This is suicidal for you all and just another nail in your coffin to add to the many that will see you buried and gone from the national scene. As a woman I am looking forward to seeing that day.

    September 29, 2013 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
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