WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) will help introduce legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision to restrict women’s access to health care. The bill would ensure that women’s health care decisions are not at the mercy of their bosses’ religious beliefs.
“In the 21st century, for-profit corporations should not be allowed to block employees’ access to critical preventive health services like birth control,” Shea-Porter said. “I’m pleased that this legislation extends proper protection to religious employers and non-profit institutions, and I urge Congress to act now to avert the negative consequences of the Supreme Court’s disturbing decision and make clear that women and their doctors, not their bosses or politicians, have control over personal health care decisions.”
The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using their personal religious beliefs as a justification to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits that do not wish to offer direct coverage for contraceptives.
The legislation will be introduced by Reps. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) in the House, where Rep. Shea-Porter is an original cosponsor. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are introducing companion legislation in the Senate.
Almost 100 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives. The Centers for Disease Control declared it one of the Ten Great Public Health Achievements of the 20th Century. For millions of Americans, contraception coverage is a vital economic and health benefit, allowing women and families to avoid unplanned pregnancies and treat other health conditions.
After the Hobby Lobby decision, Shea-Porter called the court’s all-male majority opinion “incredibly disappointing,” and noted that “this decision will only make some women’s lives even more difficult, and leaves me wondering what’s next from this activist Supreme Court.”