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Laura Bassett

WASHINGTON — Democratic female senators are stunned the government is on the verge of shutting down and Republicans are once again using the crisis to target birth control and preventative care for women, a group of them said on Monday.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) told reporters that the Senate will unequivocally reject a provision sent to them by House Republicans this weekend that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage for moral reasons.

“In the dead of night, while most of us were sleeping, they snuck in a provision one more time that specifically targets women of this country,” Hirono said. “It’s just amazing. We have laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, and yet they put in a provision that just targets women. It truly defies logic.”

The “conscience clause,” which would also allow employers to opt out of covering screenings for cervical cancer, pregnancy-related diabetes and sexually transmitted infections, was added into the House spending bill on Saturday. The provision is similar to Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R-Mo.) controversial proposal in 2011, which the Senate rejected.

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