(PRESS RELEASE) Politicians in the U.S. House of Representatives over the weekend attached a so-called “conscience clause” to a must-pass federal government spending bill that would allow employers and insurers—religiously-affiliated or otherwise—to refuse to cover women’s preventive services as required under the Affordable Care Act for any religious or moral reason.
The amendment, which is similar to the previously-defeated “Blunt Amendment” last year, would permit a massive exemption for any employer claiming a “moral objection” to providing not only copay-free contraception, but also breastfeeding supplies, screening for gestational diabetes, HIV counseling and screening, and other essential services for women.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“This small group of politicians pushing an extreme ideological agenda is far more interested in using the threat of a government shutdown to hold women’s access to affordable birth control hostage than in passing a federal spending bill.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that only women’s health care services are treated so consistently as political pawns. And we shouldn’t have to keep repeating over and over that it’s downright un-American to have your health care depend on what your boss happens to approve.
“It’s beyond time these politicians end these extreme attacks on women’s ability to access affordable and essential health care and focus on the real task at hand.”
The Continuing Resolution now returns to the Senate, which is almost certain to reject the House's misguided and cynical amendments.