msnbc | March 01, 2012
>>> the senate will be voting this hour on the controversial blunt amendment also called the conscience amendment overriding the president's mandate on insurance coverage for birth control allowing for exemptions on moral grounds. joining me from washington is senator cantwell from washington . tell us about what you were able to share with your colleagues from the floor and how you feel about this and what should be done today with this vote in.
>> we don't want to roll back access to health care and that is what this amendment does. it is a lot broader issue than people realize. it would basically allow employers to discrimnate against women on a whole variety of health care that they currently have to provide on simply if they said they have an objection to do so. so there have been many cases over the last seven years against employers who have discriminated against women . and those cases in court have sided with giving women access. we don't want to roll back access for women . and women across america want to quit being a pawn in a political debate and get congress to focus on jobs and the economy.
>> senator, the right sees this a different way. i want you to listen to what the senator had to say yesterday and get your reaction on the other side.
>> this amendment does not mention any procedure because i don't know what -- and nobody knows what things might be in some future date offensive who somebody's religious believes but you have no financial reason to not provide a service. so the only reason you would really have under this amendment would be a true moral objection.
>> senator blunt answering criticism that the bill is too broad. how do you respond to that?
>> that's absolutely the problem with the bill. it means that any of those procedures like breast cancer screening , even diabetes screening could all of a sudden be at an employer's wim not to cover. the fact that you don't have to give an explanation for it or say i have an objection based on some values that we hold is denying access to health care that is already there for women today. it is proving valuable for people to keep health care costs down and giving women access. we have had this debate now almost seven or eight times every time there is a major bill coming before congress or a major budget decision. this seems to erupt. i hope that we will setting this today once and for all and get about focusing on our economy because women want their health care and they want jobs.
>> interestingly, though, we have senator olympia snowe saying the fight over this is one of the reasons why she is getting out of congress. she is voting against it while her colleague from maine is voting for the amendment. has the bitterness for this really damaged the dialogue in washington , d.c.?
>> i think it is taking a lot of time. if you go back to what the budget decision was on getting a continuing resolution it was held up until we had a vote on defunding planned parenthood . there are other pieces of legislation that are all about defunding access to women 's health care . there are so many case laws and so many saying this is the law of the land . you basically are just wasting time . and so you can keep using women 's health care as some sort of political pawn to score points or we can get on with what is already on the books, already established and debated by the courts, make sure employers continue to cover women 's access and get our economy going and not bring it up on every debate.
>> a woman who became a face of this debate, a georgetown law student was barred and then testified before another hearing called by senator pelosi and appeared on this show last week.
>> translator: i don't think that anyone has treated me like a political football . it was discouraging to see women 's health treated that way previously. i am glad to see that america is paying attention to women 's concerns. if you want to hold a hearing on a sidewalk outside i'll show up to talk about women 's health. i don't think that that forum could be criticized in that way.
>> senator, rush limbaugh yesterday squarely aimed his words questioning her virtue, doing so in a pretty rude manner on the air waves. how do you feel about her character? is she being treated like a political football between the parties?
>> there is no call for those kinds of comments. those are very inappropriate and they should be repudiated by lots of people. this is about something that women have fought for and guaranteed the right to get access. having access to a mammogram screening or for diabetes screening or in many other instances just preventative care is about keeping people healthy in america . employers who did try to discrimnate were found in court to be wrong. let's not go backwards here. let's go forward. we are going to have to have our voices loudly heard. we are just wasting time by debating it over and over and over again.
>> thank you for making time for us today. we appreciate your time.
>> thank you.