The Senate has just voted down, 51 to 48, the Blunt-Nelson amendment, which would have restored the conscience protections that Americans had before Obamacare was passed. The vote came in response to the Obamacare mandate that employers, including religious institutions, provide insurance plans covering contraception and abortifacient drugs. Despite reports that "Republicans appeared to be divided" on the issue, only one Republican, Olympia Snowe, voted with the Democrats against the amendment, while three Democrats, Ben Nelson, Bob Casey, and Joe Manchin, voted with Republicans in support of it.

Moderate Republicans like Scott Brown, Susan Collins, and Lisa Murkowski voted with the GOP conference in support of the Blunt amendment. Republican senator Mark Kirk, who recently suffered a stroke, was not in the Capitol today to vote.

Democrats like Dick Durbin had recently argued that the language of the amendment would restrict access to contraception, but several sources have discounted this. The amendment would have actually restored conscience exemptions that existed prior to Obamacare that Democrats have supported in the past.

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