The Senate voted 51-48 Thursday to set aside a measure letting employers omit insurance coverage for health services they find morally objectionable, part of a fiery debate that is reshaping the presidential race and congressional campaigning.

Democrats argued that the amendment, sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) would allow employers to refuse coverage for any service they dislike, including vaccinations, mammograms and drug treatment.

Republicans said the issue was religious freedom. The Blunt Amendment, they said, would have carved out a so-called conscience exemption to a new requirement under President Barack Obama’s health law that all health plans cover an array of treatments, including contraception, at no additional cost to workers.