Republican Amendment Proposes Religious Liberty Based Death Panel

President Obama’s election engendered a rash of fallacious claims about tyranny and loss of freedom within weeks of the Koch brothers’ creating teabaggers. At tea party rallies across the nation racists objecting to an African American man in the Oval Office held signs decrying “tyranny” and Gadsden flags with a rattle snake and the words, “don’t tread on me” that symbolized resistance to oppressive British acts in colonial America. Interestingly, queries to teabaggers about which liberties they lost when Obama was inaugurated went unanswered; they just knew the President was a tyrant who stole their freedoms.

Republicans assailed President Obama for restricting religious liberty when he included contraception in employees’ health insurance coverage, and even after exempting faith-based institutions from the law, Republicans still claim he is restricting religious liberty.  In a move to counter health insurance contraception coverage, Republicans have taken steps to allow any employer to deny health insurance coverage for any preventative or essential health care service, not just contraceptives. The amendment is sponsored by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) and it is the death panel Sarah Palin preached about during the healthcare reform debate, and the ultimate loss of freedom (life) at the hands of Republicans. It is also how theocracy begins.

The measure allows insurers or employers to claim moral or religious objection to covering “HIV/AIDS screenings, Type 2 Diabetes treatments, cancer tests or anything else they deem inappropriate or the result of an “unhealthy” or “immoral” lifestyle. Similarly, a health plan could refuse to cover mental health care on the grounds that the plan believes that psychiatric problems should be treated with prayer.” The measure serves two purposes. It allows religious extremists to control healthcare decisions for all Americans, and undermines the new health law. This is not about contraception, it is about Republicans doing the bidding of Catholic bishops and evangelical freaks whose tyrannical bent leads them to dictate to an entire population what constitutes medical treatment regardless of how essential it is to save lives or maintain good health.

Republicans and some very conservative Catholic groups claimed the President’s inclusion of contraceptives was tantamount to “religious persecution,” and although their claims were unfounded and patently untrue, they have turned the tables and are using their religion to persecute all Americans. In the section titled “Respect For Rights of Conscience”  of Amendment 1520 of S. 1813 it says “no exchange or other official or entity acting in a governmental capacity shall discriminate against a health plan, plan sponsor, health care provider, or other person because of such plan’s sponsor’s, provider’s, or person’s unwillingness to provide coverage of, participate in, or refer for, specific items or services.” In short the amendment gives any person the right, based on their personal moral or religious conviction, to refuse treatment or coverage for other people in any health plan whether it directly affects the individual or not.

The National Women’s Law Center asserts, correctly, that the language in the amendment is vague enough that insurance companies can “sell plans that do not cover services required by the new health care law to an entire market because one individual objects, so all consumers in a market lose their right to coverage of the full range of critical health services.” What that means is that if one malcontent evangelical objects to cancer screening for gays, then no-one in the plan gets cancer screening coverage; gay or straight. If, for example, a nurse concludes an obese, unshaven man suffering a heart attack is homeless or living an unhealthy lifestyle, they can refuse to administer life-saving treatment because doing so is contrary to their moral beliefs. It is the same if an emergency room nurse “thinks” an accident victim is gay, they can refuse to admit or treat the victim on moral or religious conscience grounds without fear of termination or consequences, and the hospital must respect their decision as final and withhold treatment.

Senator Blunt’s amendment is primarily aimed at women’s freedoms, but it applies to every American and is a gift to the insurance industry. If a man enrolls in an insurance plan and he objects to maternity coverage, then the plan must, by law, disallow all maternity coverage just because one man objects. Conceivably, the insurance industry can refuse to cover any medical treatment if they can find (or pay) one person to lodge a complaint objecting to coverage for, let’s say, Diabetes, depression, broken bones, or myriad health problems despite that such “coverage is required as part of the essential health benefits.” The danger is not just from bible cults that object to contraception or other medical treatment, it extends to non-health professionals and puts every American’s health decisions in the hand(s) of ordinary lunatics who claim moral or religious conscience objections.

Republicans and teabaggers claimed the Affordable Health Act puts the government between a citizen and their doctor which is untrue, but now they are proposing putting religious fanatics between citizens and any health professional. Blunt’s amendment exemplifies religious tyranny and is the ultimate expression of loss of freedom to choose healthcare or essential medical treatment. It also puts life and death medical decisions in the hands of non-medical professionals who can single-handedly eliminate any treatment from a health plan regardless if it is based on religion or not.

This is Republicans putting ethical, moral, medical, and religious decisions for the entire country squarely in the purview of one religion, or one maniac. The diabetic who needs insulin to maintain their life may lose access to insulin therapy if a religious person in a private or government health plan objects to treating diabetes, or a mentally ill patient may have to resort to prayer if one Scientologist objects to mental illness treatment. The amendment is egregious for many reasons, but it is most horrid because there is no government expense involved in private health plans and yet one person can eliminate coverage for the entire plan if they happen to object on moral grounds.

Blunt’s amendment epitomizes religious tyranny and gives ultimate power to any fanatic to dictate their morality to every citizen in this country. If this amendment passes and becomes law, Republicans will have legalized tyranny by nut-job with the full support of the federal government. Republicans are expediting religious fundamentalists’ goal of controlling every aspect of Americans’ lives, and it is legislation by theocracy. It is also the beginning of death panels, or in the case of Blunt’s amendment, death by individual with a twisted religious conscience.

It is bad enough Republicans spent the past year doing religious fundamentalists’ bidding denying women’s right to choose their own reproductive health, but now they are attempting to deny all Americans and their doctors the right to make healthcare choices. One thing is certain; teabaggers now have a legitimate claim that their liberties are being stolen and it is their lawmakers who are responsible. It is, in effect, tyranny by Republicans, religious fundamentalists, janitor, nurse, or window washer who objects to any medical treatment for religious or moral reasons. Only in Republican’s America can an elementary school dropout  with a bible object and prohibit cardio-vascular surgeons from using anesthesia during quadruple-bypass heart surgery, but they will allow prayer.

30 Replies to “Republican Amendment Proposes Religious Liberty Based Death Panel”

  1. Where are the women of America?
    Why are they being silent?

    I had hoped that the strong showing against the Koman foundation would have demonstrated to women what is in the future if a ‘women’s organization” could go against them.

  2. Well, there are a couple of fortunate things about this: the first is that it doesn’t have a hope in h*ll of passing, and the second is that it’s an excellent demonstration of how the Repugs actually think insurance death panels are a good thing and will make for a great Democratic ad!

    But, I must admit I had to read it twice, because the first time through, I just couldn’t believe it! The Repugs continue to shoot themselves in the foot with just about every move they make these days.

  3. I am not sure it would be to the insurance companies benefit simply because that could spiral out of control. If a person could complain about anything that’s unhealthy or immoral, that could be applied to anything and everything. That could literally put an insurance company out of business. Because no matter who the Republicans pay, the Democrats can also pay.

    But given that I wonder how many companies would deal with an insurance company that would honor that type of system. Certainly group healthcare plans would be gone in no time. In fact healthcare would be gone. Republicans think they’re getting back at Obama when they are ending or attempting to end the very businesses they’re trying to protect

  4. First of all, if they failed to cover major diseases in this country (diabetes and cancer!) then that burden would fall to us, the taxpayers, who would surely end up demanding government health insurance for ALL — a ‘death panel’ for private insurers.

    Second of all, how can these morons claim to be so cocksure that diabetes and cancer are the result of unhealthy life styles? Why did Linus Pauling get cancer, for example? It only shows how deluded these guys are, in their total egotism: remember Freud said that the ego believes it is immortal.

  5. Well, look at it this way, once the health insurance industry’s benefit to society is so diminished and full of holes that no one wants to pay for it, the only logical solution will be to declare Obamacare a “failure” and switch over to single payer. :)

  6. This woman isn’t being silent about it, to be sure. Even though I’m over child-bearing age, I have a son that might find a wonderful young lady as his mate, and these stupid policies will affect her. It is clear to me that the right wing have their heads so far in the clouds that they have to look down to see their heaven. Down here on earth, we need to let logic and compassion dictate since they cannot. Get these Red State nutjobs out now!

  7. I have to believe that the American public sees that the Republican Party and the Religious Right are getting nuttier and nuttier, and that they will run as far and fast away from both as they can, come November. Their descent into absolute insanity is too well-documented for them ever to deny. Let them all self-immolate and MAYBE something better will arise from their ashes.

  8. these folks are just getting warmed up…of course the want to “get their folks to the polls” in November, thus assuring continuity of power.. barring that scenario they want to insert “poison pills” in any progressive legislation.. witnes the situation the lame duck republicans left the post office in, after loosing the congress in 06

  9. Actually, they have their heads in a place where the sun doesn’t shine. This “attack on religious freedom” is a red herring they cooked up along with the male Catholic hierarchy.

  10. As someone who, while affiliated with Christian Science, became acquainted with the dangers of mental malpractice (the willful concentration of malicious intent on someone), I object to Republican officials, candidates, think-tank personnel, and political operatives being covered for anything at all.

  11. I don’t think that the Reich Wing nut jobs have their heads in the clouds, they have them firmly planted way inside their ass.

  12. I don’t think that the Reich Wing nut jobs have their heads in the clouds, they have them firmly planted way inside their ass. It needs to be illegal to be a republican on grounds of treason.

  13. The ultimate Rethuglican agenda here is to get this law passed and then require all Americans to have Health Insurance. If the insurance covers nothing because of “Moral” issues, it doesn’t matter. The insurance company still gets paid, but never has to pay anything out in return.

  14. Out here in uber-rural America – we have pharmacies, owned by Conservative Fundamentalits, who will not dispense or carry the RU-486 or “birth control pills” because it is against their belief. Women in those communities must travel 50+ miles to a full service pharmacy or use a pharma-mail service. Ahhhh – another reason the GOP wants to destroy the Post Office system.

    If the GOP believe any employers can define employee insurance coverage – it will be a employee & national nightmare. Scientology, Jehovah Witness, Catholic, Mormon and so on each having a set of medical treatment exemptions. Birth Control, blood transfusion, pray the broken limb away… all at the whim of company owner or board of directors.

    However, they can then determine their insurance will not cover a disabled child and mandate a pregnancy termination. What a can of worms!

  15. when you think our country cannot sink any lower in the abyss of insanity, then this comes along and i want to know what can we the 99% of americans do to fight this lunacy and take back our government from corrupt government officials who in no way represent or follow what the average american wants. Using religion as a means to create hatefull racist and downright mean legislature leaves me aghast at the hypocricy of men of faith that are supposed to stand for love and compassion and for a moral stand to help others find their way but instead we are subjected to medieval standards whereas the clergy and catholic priests hated women hated the poor and took and stole and killed in the name of jesus and the bible do any of these people actually read the bible because if they did they would shut up and fire themselves for the greedy amorral fools that they are religion belongs anywhere but in our government but what can you expect from corrupted government officials who seem hell bent of destroying women and poor people thanks government and in case they dont know it we vote that is women and poor and there is more of us than them maybe thats what they fear the most so for now suffice to say i read the bible and end by saying peace and love and the way for evil to flourish is when good men sit by and do nothing

  16. There is a major error in the article. The amendment does not allow an individual to object to an employer based plan. The amendment provides an exception for individual policies. However, the amendment is in itself a violation of religious freedom in that it allows the imposition of an employer’s religious beliefs on the health care options of its employees. It does not protect the religious freedom of employees.

  17. Good lord – where HAVE you been? We are anything BUT silent! Every group, NOT just women, have been pointing out how odious this is, how illegal in its support for one faith view over all other views, and yes there is HUGE pushback including from faith-grounded health care organizations that respect individual HEALTH over individual pique. You and we and everyone has to raise their voice on this despicable issue. But no – women are NOT silent on this or anything else. I hope you’re listening!

  18. Do NOT take this for granted, and because the president does not have line item veto power, it could go through in S. 1813 a transportation bill authored by Sen. Barbara Boxer. And no – an amendment does not have to have anything to do with the primary bill. (Major weakness, IMHO, of our system.) This is being done to shove it up Boxer’s nose. The official reporting on amendments is not up to date yet, but it is imperative we begin making VERY clear to Senate members and Congressional members if, God forbid, this passes, that we won’t tolerate it, and we insist on a repeal of the Blunt Amendment. All the requisite information is above in red. This is VERY important! You have to start speaking out NOW.

  19. Rmuse – I found S 1318’s SA 1520 on the Congressional Record p. S539 for Feb. 9. 2012. Do you have any other EASIER sources for the original authentic text (as opposed to articles ABOUT the text?) Thomas won’t have it until it moves off the desk. I will alert our organization’s 1.5 million members, and I’d love to give them something easier to access than that.

    If there IS something easier to access than that… This IS the federal government!

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give.

  20. Absolutely! Nowhere in this debate are the moral values of people who believe contraception (much less any OTHER issue) is a profound moral GOOD. Mainline and progressive Protestants in the majority support birth control as a key family value in responsible parenthood. They see it as critical to “care for creation”, the good stewarship of resources for all people and the natural world in itself that would be decimated by overpopulation. Jews, Quakers, Seventh Day Adventists, and many other people of faith as well as secular humanists and non-believers all support contraception as well. NO one is speaking of the rights of such people – this is a clear case of “embedded inequality” where the rights of the few (Catholics and extremist Dominionists) trump the rights of everyone else. Rmuse is also correct in saying that the amendment is SO vague and general that it could attack HIV testing and treatment, it could eliminate care for diabetes, could even outlaw mental health (think prayer instead of psychiatry, think Scientology) and any – ANY – other health care option that one person believes to be “immoral”.

    WHAT ABOUT OUR RIGHTS???? This is absurdly bigoted in its biases. It is past time that we demand that moral values not be confined to people who are naysayers but lifted to the level of shared differences in which we all need to participate. You individually do NOT have to participate. You have no right, under the equal protection acts of the Civil Rights Act and the Constitution to impose your values on others.

    WHAT ABOUT OUR RIGHTS? That needs to be drummed into the minds of every single legislator in America.

  21. I LOVE YOU EVEN MORE! Thank you! This is a critical article you wrote, and millions of FAITH-grounded health advocates as well as secular health communities are stepping up to abolish it.

  22. That would not necessarily follow. Even if ACA were to prove unable to cover ANY disease, it entirely depends on who is controlling the outcome. The goal of the corporate insurance-friendly GOP is to do precisely this – get as many sick people off insurance. It would be the insurance companies’ wet dream come true. And if the GOP are in charge – what you will get is no coverage of anything that really matters. Do not presume ineptitude leads to improvement. It CAN lead to worse things than you ever imagined.

  23. Just as a point of information, NO pharmacy dispenses RU-486. That is a chemical form of abortion. What you’re thinking of is Plan B, the “emergency” contraception. A decade ago in several eastern Catholic hospitals, it was given out in the ER to victims of sexual assault. Now? It’s unclear. Some do, some don’t. The American Life League made a huge uproar that it MIGHT cause a fertilized egg not to implant (which is not what it is supposed to do; it prevents fertilization in the first place) so that while the Bishops once were OK with it, it’s now far more dubiously accepted. That is the result of Judi Brown, of ALL, working for a decade to, as she put it, “Personalize the egg.” Thanks, Mrs. Brown. You’re an idiot. But because of her, pharmacists with “conscience” can refuse to provide it. However, in theory, they are mandated to tell women where they CAN get it. As if, in rural areas, there are lots and lots of options.

    But no, no one dispenses RU-486 save for hospitals and clinics. Just a point.

  24. Once again, a Republican – Failin’ Palin – raises fears about “death panels,” only to be followed a short time later by the Blount Force instrument. This bill strikes at the heart of every social program, every compassionate trait, all those things which differentiate human beings from Teavangelists and Koch-suckers. (And don’t tell me about the pronunciation, I don’t give a fuck. They are sucking the corporate teat of the Kochs, and they are suckers for doing so…)

    When confronted with a sociopath, do not attempt to engage in dialog. That requires two reasoning beings. Do not attempt to rationalize, they are literally incapable of coherent thought. Call the local State ward for the Criminally insane and just say, “Come get him…”

  25. @Churchlady:You are so right,about many,many things!May I add the absolute BIGGEST thing we ALL must do this year? That is to make SURE of two things: 1)that EVERYONE be made AWARE of what the Repubs are trying to do,by moving all of us to a place where we, and our loved ones cannot get the healthcare we need! That when we, or our families have some condition that needs to be treated aggressively RIGHT AWAY,we may NOT be able to GET THE PROPER TREATMENT-because some Fool might believe that treatment,even if life saving,is not to THEIR liking! A COMPLETELY INSANE IDEA FOR HEALTHCARE WHICH MUST BE STOPPED NOW!! 2) That EVERY VOTER HAS WHTEVER THEY NEED TO VOTE IN NOVEMBER OF THIS YEAR,no matter HOW inconvenient an ID is to get -We MUST MAKE SURE WE ALL HELP PUSH DRIVES TO GET PEOPLE READY TO PRESENT WHATEVER THESE NEW REPUB STATE LAWS REQUIRE TO VOTE! “THAT”IS HOW REPUBS HOPE TO WIN THE ELECTION,IF THEY CAN’T WIN IT FAIR&SQUARE,WE only have to look at Iowa and Maine,to see how REPUBLICANS CONDUCT ELECTIONS! Want a certin REPUB TO WIN? Why,they just SET IT UP,DON’T COUNT CERTIN UNFAVORALE VOTES,LOSE VOTES,WHATEVER THEY HAVE TO DO TO WIN AGAINST THE PERSON THEY DONT WANT IN,and To WIN AGAINST THE THE AMERICAN PEOPLE! Rep.Maxine Waters HAS IT RIGHT,WHEN SHE SAYS”the Repubs have become “DEMONS”,and may I add”EVIL TO ALL MIDDLE CLASS AND POOR AMERICANS”? We MUST STOP REPUBS FROM COMPLETELY RUINING THIS COUNTRY.- PRES.OBAMA IS THE ONLY PROTECTION NORMAL,REGULAR AMERICANS HAVE NOW! Maybe,by 2016,many of these EXTREME,AND INSANE REPUBS WILL EITHER BE TOO OLD,OR HAVE LOST ALL RESPECT OF ANY AMERICANS,BUT,FOR NOW,WE NEED PRESIDENT OBAMA IF WE WANT TO KEEP MIDDLE CLASS AMERICA FROM TOTALLY BEING “a thing of the Past!” Make sure you and your family and friends CAN AND DO-VOTE-and VOTE ONLY FOR DEMS THIS YEAR,SO WE MAY SAVE OURSELVES,AND OUR COUNTRY.THERE IS,FOR NOW,NO OTHER WAY FORWARD,FOR ANYONE BUT THE VERY RICH!!!

  26. Even if they do pass it it won’t last long. Just think; Newt Gingrich requires heart surgery but one of the Hospitals janitors object to it being done on moral grounds. That leaves ol Mitt stuck out. This janitors objection means that LEGALLY no one, in that hospital can treat him. How long do you think this would last? HAH!!!!!

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