In the aftermath of the Supreme Court supremely sucking, Democrats in the House and Senate are fighting back in order to protect the contraception access of all women — even those who work for companies run by morons who are terrified of female reproductive autonomy.
Yesterday, Sens. Patty Murray and Mark Udall introduced a bill, very appropriately titled the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act, in the Senate; Reps. Louise Slaughter, Diana DeGette and Jerrold Nadler are developing a companion bill in the House. According to a press release, the legislation will mandate that employers can't interfere in their employees' decisions about contraception — thus restoring "the original legal guarantee" under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that ensures that "women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans."
The Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act would preserve federal rules that provide exemptions for houses of worship and accommodations for religious non-profits with objections to providing contraception coverage. However, it contains no exception for privately-held companies with reeeaaaaaally strong sex-is-scary religious beliefs. You know, places like Hobby Lobby and its repressive buddies. The bill also states that all federal laws — including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that was used to justify the Hobby Lobby ruling — do not permit employers to refuse to comply with the ACA contraception mandate.
"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 Senator Murray, speaking at the Capitol. She added, "This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period."
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, spoke at the same press conference: "With this bill, Congress can begin to fix the damage done by the Supreme Court's decision to allow for-profit corporations to deny their employees birth control coverage," she stated. "No woman should lose access to birth control because her boss doesn't approve of it."
The legislation, which was reportedly put together in consultation with the Obama administration, could be on the Senate floor as early as next week. Legislators say that 35 to 40 Senators support the current version of the bill, and it has 60 co-sponsors in the House, but no Republican lawmakers have explicitly come out in favor of it yet.
But even if it doesn't pass, it will keep attention focused on reproductive rights. Plus, it will help remind women who actually has their best interests in mind (hint: not the guys trying to regulate what they do with their uteri). "This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we're going to do something about it," Senate majority leader Harry Reid told the New York Times. "People are going to have to walk down here and vote, and if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think they're going to be treated unfavorably come November with the elections." Here's hoping.
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