Senators Patty Murray (D-WY) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have decided to stand up and fight for women’s reproductive rights by drafting a bill that would override the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on contraceptive coverage.
The bill, which could reach the senate floor by early next week, would make sure that women had insurance coverage for birth control, even if their for-profit employers had religious objections. It would require these corporations to pay for all 20 types of contraceptives, along with other preventative health measures, covered under the Affordable Care Act.
“Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business,” said Sen. Murray. “Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”
The legislation asserts that the Court’s ruling was discriminatory against female employees and employers “shall not deny coverage of a specific health care item or service” where coverage is required under federal law. The withstanding exemption for churches and places of worship would still apply.
Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said that this bill was high on his agenda and that he would force a vote by the end of the senate’s work period early next month.
“The one thing we’re going to do … sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” said Sen. Reid. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it. 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.”
A companion bill is being introduced in the House by Representatives Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Diana Degette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).
“This bill will ensure that employees access to critical health services is not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs,” the representatives said in a statement. “Congress never intended to allow corporate employers to block employee access to critical preventative services like birth control.”
While Murray and Udall’s bill has a chance to make it through the senate, both bills have a much harder hill to climb in the Republican controlled House. After the Hobby Lobby ruling earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner called the decision a “victory for religious freedom.”