Despite Support of a Majority of Senators, Opponents of Contraceptive Coverage Block “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act”
56 Senators voted to advance the bill introduced last week in response to harmful, far-reaching Hobby Lobby decision
(PRESS RELEASE) Despite a clear majority of U.S. Senators voting today to advance the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act,” the bill did not garner the 60 votes needed to end debate and move to an up-or-down vote on the measure.
The bill was introduced last week to ensure that bosses cannot deny employees full coverage of contraceptives and other essential health care in company insurance plans based solely on their personal beliefs—a direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Burwell.
Said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Despite swift efforts and the support of a majority of Senators to advance a critical health benefit for millions of women, opponents of contraceptive insurance coverage have chosen to allow bosses to dictate which health care choices are best for their employees.
“Personal beliefs and demonstrably false scientific assertions should not be the basis for health care policy in any form, but that is exactly what the opponents of this bill have opted to support.
“Affordable access to contraception leads to immense, far-reaching benefits for our society, our economy, and the 99 percent of women who will rely on contraception in their lives to plan their families and their future.
“We urge the champions of this bill to continue their dogged efforts to protect this essential benefit for women across the U.S.”
Introduced by Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall and Representatives Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, and Jerry Nadler, the “Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act” (S. 2578) would ensure that employers cannot interfere in their employees’ decisions about contraception and other health services by barring employers from refusing to cover any health care service—including contraception—guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law. The bill also establishes that other federal laws—including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993—do not permit employers to refuse to comply with federal health care coverage requirements. Lastly, the bill maintains the existing exemption from the contraceptive coverage requirement for houses of worship and the accommodation for religious non-profits.
Last month’s ruling in Hobby Lobby allowed closely held corporations to deny their employees insurance coverage for birth control under the Affordable Care Act’s preventive health provisions, which were designed to greatly expand affordable health care services for all women in the U.S.