Democrats in both chambers today introduced legislation they say would counter the effects on contraceptive coverage from the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
Sponsors say the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would “restore the original legal guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans and will protect coverage of other health services from employer interference as well.”
The bill states that coverage is guaranteed by federal law through the Affordable Care Act, and states that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not permit employers to refuse to comply with the Obamacare requirement.
It would ban employers from refusing to provide any facet of healthcare coverage “guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law.”
It includes the administration’s accommodation compromise for religious nonprofits and house of worship, which is separately being challenged in court.
The Senate version was introduced by Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.). A companion bill was introduced in the House by Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).
“After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women’s access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong,” said Murray. “This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies.”
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, praised the bill as congressional action “to fix the damage done by the Supreme Court’s decision.”
“The Supreme Court last week opened the door to a wide range of discrimination and denial of services. This bill would help close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it,” she said.
Vulnerable Democrats co-sponsoring the bill in the upper chamber include Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and John Walsh (D-Mont.).
However, Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) are not original co-sponsors.
Begich stood with Murray and Udall at today’s press conference as the bill was introduced.
“Last week’s Supreme Court decision on the Hobby Lobby case was startling news for Alaska women, who don’t want their boss preventing access to birth control. Not only does this impact a woman’s personal healthcare choices, but this is an economic issue for Alaska families,” said Begich. “Because of the Hobby Lobby case, more than 60,000 Alaska women could be denied access to birth control and reproductive care. This bill will make sure that these types of health care decisions stay between a woman and her doctor – not her boss.”