Sen. Scott Brown says the son of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy co-sponsored a 1997 bill to allow for a similar "conscience exemption" for health insurance that Brown now backs in the U.S. Senate.
Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy, of Rhode Island, has asked the Republican to stop running a radio ad that claims Sen. Kennedy also supported religious exemptions for employers and health insurers.
“Like Ted Kennedy before me, I support a conscience exemption in health care for Catholics and other people of faith,” Brown says in the ad.
Brown has quoted a letter from Edward Kennedy to Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 that he believed “in a conscience protection” for Catholics.
In a letter, Patrick Kennedy told Brown that his father’s support for a conscience exemption is different from a current proposal that he says would allow employers or insurers to refuse coverage.
Brown told reporters that he would not pull the ad and said he was "confused" by Patrick Kennedy's letter because the Democrat appeared to share the same position as his father on the issue.
Patrick Kennedy refused to comment Monday beyond his letter to Brown, but Nick Littlefield, Sen. Kennedy's former chief of staff, said comparing the two positions is "so inaccurate that it takes your breath away."
Brown's chief Democratic rival, Elizabeth Warren, called his decision to continuing running the radio ad "shameful."
Brown supports a Republican-backed bill that would allow employers and health care plans to deny coverage for any service they say violates their moral or religious beliefs.
Democrats say the measure goes too far.
"I've said right from the beginning," Brown said Monday, "if there's something in that amendment that we need to fix, let's do it. That's what compromise is all about."
With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom
This article was originally published on February 27, 2012.
This program aired on February 27, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.