Legislation Introduced to Reverse Supreme Court Decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby


Image from abcactionnews.com

Image from abcactionnews.com

The Obama Administration is not pleased with the Supreme Court’s decision in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Burwell v. Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp.  In a statement delivered July 30th, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, “The problem is that the Institute of Medicine says that women should have access to these kinds of preventative services, but the ruling allows the bosses of these women to essentially step in and say, well, I have a religious concern so you’re not allowed to make your own decision about whether or not you’d like to benefit from these services; we’re going to make sure that they aren’t provided. We strongly disagree with that. We believe that Congress should take action to fix it.” Congress has taken action, working closely with the Obama Administration to draft the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act. The proposed legislation would essentially reverse the Hobby Lobby ruling and require for-profit companies to provide all contraceptive coverage mandated by the Affordable Care Act—despite religious objections. The act would keep in place current exemptions/ accommodations for non-profit faith-based organization and religious organizations. On July 9th, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act was introduced to the Senate by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO).  In a statement, Senator Udall said, “My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family.” Senator Murray concurred: “Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.” Other supporters in include Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA). Although Sen. Boxer voted for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, she disagrees with its interpretation in the Hobby Lobby case and supports the bill. The Protect Women’s health from Corporate Interference Act has the endorsement of 35 organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, Methodist Federation for Social Action, National Council of Jewish Women, and  Metropolitan Community Churches. Speaking of the bill, the President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund Cecile Richards said, “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. 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.” So far, no Republicans have voiced support for the legislation. Despite (or perhaps due to) this fact, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to bring the bill to a vote in the Senate. Even if the bill does not pass, senators would still be forced to take a stance on the issue—something Democrats believe will be helpful come midterm elections. Sen. Reid said, “The one thing we’re going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men…People are going to have to walk down here 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.” Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), and Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) have announced intents to introduce a companion bill in the House of Representatives. Such a bill would likely not come to a vote in the Republican-controlled house. At least for now, the Hobby Lobby ruling stands.

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