Senator Tom Harkin

Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says conservative Republicans are re-igniting “culture wars” in Congress, evidenced by a vote today on an amendment Harkin says is “extremism.”

Harkin, a Democrat, says he will oppose the measure from Missouri Republican Roy Blunt, which Harkin says would cut women off from many types of health care.

“It would allow any employer or any health plan to deny women access to contraception, mammograms, prenatal screenings, cervical cancer screenings and much more,” Harkin says. “It would allow employers and health insurance companies to deny coverage of any health services they find morally objectionable.”

He says the results of the legislation would be far-reaching.

“If this amendment becomes law, an estimated 225,000 women in Iowa could lose access to preventive health services,” Harkin says. “Nationwide, an estimated 20-million women could lose access.”

He says the goal all during the health care reform debates was to transform the nation’s “sick care system” into a genuine health care system that emphasizes wellness, prevention and public health.

In his words, Harkin says this “very dangerous” legislation would wipe away all gains that have been made for women in one swoop.

“Supporters of the amendment say that this is about respecting the rights of conscience, but this amendment goes way beyond respecting an individual’s conscience,” Harkin says. “It would allow employers and insurance companies to refuse to cover not just any preventive services but any other health service required under the Affordable Care Act.”

He says the measure would “largely dismantle” the federal health care reform law and the protections it provides to millions.