It’s time for Senator Scott Brown to admit to a mistake.



Carol Rose

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this blog for Boston.com.

So, Scott Brown trusts women to risk their lives on the front lines for America. “We have an obligation to expand the professional opportunities available to women, especially considering their sacrifices,’’ he says. Good.

He’s willing to have women take part in combat, but he doesn’t trust women to make decisions to protect their own bodies? How else can you explain Senator Brown’s support for extreme legislation (the Blunt Amendment) that would allow any employer to deny their employees insurance coverage for any health care service -- from contraception to cancer screening -- by citing "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

Allowing CEOs to impose their religious views on their employees is not religious liberty. It's discrimination, plain and simple. And “moral convictions” could be used to justify almost anything.

As The Phoenix editorialized so eloquently about the absurd claim by Brown and other Blunt supporters that they are just supporting religious liberty, “It's time to call the dispute what it is: a steaming crock of malarkey.”

Outside Scott Brown’s office today during a brief, wild hail storm, more than 50 people protested his position on the Blunt Amendment and called on him to drop his support for this dangerous, regressive measure. ACLU attorney Sarah Wunsch quipped about the apocalyptic weather, “It’s clear the gods are angry at Scott Brown.” Whether or not the gods are angry, women and men across the Commonwealth will be outraged when they realize their junior senator is treating contraception and other basic health care as a political football.

On the other hand, at least we know where he stands on the throwback-to-the-fifties contraception debate. That’s more than we can say about another issue affecting those military women whose service Scott Brown professes to honor.

For the better part of a year, Scott Brown has refused to say where he stands when the ACLU of Massachusetts has asked him to support servicewomen and their families by signing on to the Military Access to Reproductive Care and Health for Military Women Act (“MARCH for Military Women Act” H.R. 2085/S. 1214). The MARCH Act would ensure that military servicewomen and their families have the same access to medical care as their civilian counterparts in the federal government. Though the federal government bans abortion coverage for its employees in most circumstances, at least that ban provides an exception for cases of rape and incest.

Cruelly, a military ban prohibits coverage for servicewomen who are raped and does not even allow a woman to obtain an abortion on a military base using her own private funds. This, despite the fact that military women are twice as likely to be raped as women in the general public and have become pregnant after being raped by civilians or fellow soldiers.

Scott Brown, allegedly a champion of female troops, has refused to take a position against singling out U.S. servicewomen and military families for inferior and unequal treatment.

Thank you, Senator Brown, for supporting a woman’s right to die for her country. How about supporting the right of women to basic medical care while we’re at it?