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Brown, Warren release radio ads on contraception issue

US Senator Scott Brown and Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren both hit the radio waves today with new advertisements highlighting their positions in the debate over whether religious-affiliated organizations sponsoring health plans should have to provide contraception coverage.

Brown’s ad highlights his support for amendment which would allow all employers to deny medical coverage based on moral objections. He calls it a religious freedom issue, “one of our most precious rights.” Warren’s ad refers to a recent Congressional hearing about birth control that had no women testifying as an example that “Washington really doesn’t get it.”

The warring 60-second radio spots promote an issue that both sides believe will give them a political advantage. Neither candidate mentions the other in the advertisement, but their positions are at odds. The debate has become a national flashpoint in recent weeks – a rare social issue in a political climate that has largely been dominated by economic concerns.

Brown, in his ad, reiterates the contention he has already made that his position is in line with the views of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, the Democrat he replaced.

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“I’m concerned about a new federal mandate forcing religious organizations to offer insurance coverage for practices that go against the teachings of their church. Such a requirement flies in the face of our basic American values of religious tolerance. Like Ted Kennedy before me, I support a conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of faith,” he says in the ad.

Warren, in her ad, raises concerns about the measure, known as the Blunt amendment.

“Now, the Senate is about to vote on a new law, proposed by Republicans, that allows your employer or insurance company to claim a vague ‘moral conviction’ to deny you contraception or any health care coverage they want,” she says. “This new law threatens women’s access to contraception, mammograms, even maternity care. It’s just plain wrong.”

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President Obama announced in January that universities and hospitals affiliated with the Catholic Church and other religious groups must provide contraception as part of their employee health coverage. Obama has since revised his position, exempting the organizations from the requirement as long as insurers provide the coverage.

Warren supports the Obama position. Brown says it does not adequately protect religious freedom.


Noah Bierman can be reached at nbierman@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @noahbierman.