Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who led the filing of a brief on behalf of Democratic senators in the Hobby Lobby case, said on the Senate floor yesterday that the case is not about freedom.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in the case, which challenges the Department of Health and Human Services’ mandate to offer contraceptive coverage, on March 25.
Murray called the case one “where a secular corporation, and its shareholders, are trying to get in between a woman and her health.”
“And just like the many attempts before this case, there are those out there who would like the American public to believe that this conversation is anything BUT an attack on women’s health care. To them, it’s a debate about ‘freedom,’ except of course the freedom for women to access care,” she said.
“It’s no different than when we are told that attacks on abortion rights aren’t an infringement on a women’s right to choose – they’re about religion or state’s rights. Or when we’re told that restricting emergency contraception isn’t about limiting women’s ability to make our own family planning decisions – it’s about protecting pharmacists. Or like just last week, when an Alaska state senator said he didn’t think there was a compelling reason for the government to ‘finance other people’s recreation’ in reference to contraception coverage in health care.”
Murray said “the truth is this is about contraception, this is an attempt to limit a women’s ability to access care, this is about women.”
“Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice or choice. In fact, contraception was included as a required preventive service in the Affordable Care Act on the recommendation of the independent, nonprofit Institute of Medicine and other medical experts because it is essential to the health of women and families. And after many years of research, we know ensuring access to effective birth control has a direct impact on improving the lives of women and families in America,” the senator continued.
“We have been able to directly link to declines in maternal and infant mortality, reduced risk of ovarian cancer, better overall health outcomes for women, and far fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions—which is a goal we all should share. But what’s at stake in this case before the Supreme Court is whether a CEO’s personal beliefs can trump a woman’s right to access free or low-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act.”
Murray said she hopes the court would not allow “for-profit, secular, corporations or their shareholders to deny female employees’ access to comprehensive women’s health care, under the guise of a ‘religious exemption.’”
“It’s as if we’re saying that because you are a CEO or shareholder in a corporation, your rights are more important than your employees who happen to be women,” she said. “That is a slippery slope that could lead to employers cutting off coverage for childhood immunizations—if they object to the idea…pre-natal care for children born to unmarried parents—if they thought that was wrong…or blocking an employee’s ability to access HIV treatment.”
Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), John Cornyn (R-Texas), and Mike Lee (R-Utah) filed an amicus brief in support of Hobby Lobby.
“The ability to practice the faith we choose is one of our great Constitutional rights. The Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate stomps on that right,” said Vitter.