Here are two facts about Sen. Scott Brown’s position on requiring employers and insurers to provide coverage for contraception: He’s supporting the Republican effort to allow employers to deny coverage of any type of health service to which they claim to have a religious or moral objection. And in 2002, as a Massachusetts state representative, he voted for a contraception mandate over the Catholic Church’s objections.
Brown’s position today is a surprise in itself, since he’s been trying to frame himself as some independent moderate voice to fend off Elizabeth Warren’s strong challenge. Taken together with his 2002 vote, it’s just bizarre. Warren, meanwhile, spoke to Greg Sargent, saying she’s “shocked that Senator Brown jumped in to support such an extreme measure”:
“This is an extreme attack on every one of us,” Warren said. “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.”
While Warren is making clear that this is an economic issue, an expansion of employers’ power to deny workers health care for any reason, Scott “I voted for the same thing in 2002” Brown’s campaign is trying to make this a culture war:
“It’s elitist for Elizabeth Warren to dictate to religious people about what they should believe and how they should act. She wants to use the power of government to force Catholics to violate the teachings of their faith,” Brown spokesman Colin Reed emailed. “That is wrong. This issue deals with one of our most fundamental rights as a people — the freedom of religion. Like Ted Kennedy, Scott Brown supports a religious conscience exemption in health care.”
Never mind that in 2002, this is exactly the kind of “elitist” Scott Brown was. But Brown and his fellow Republicans allowing any employer, not just a church but any employer, to dictate to people that they can’t get contraception, or possibly cervical cancer or HIV screening or treatment for those conditions or for diabetes or for anything else the employer chooses to say is immoral? Apparently Brown doesn’t see the elitism in that position—and apparently he can’t read the poll data that shows Catholics support Obama and Warren’s position on this issue.