Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and other lawmakers introduce the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act on Capitol Hill Wednesday. (Photo: Todd Ruger/NLJ)
Democratic lawmakers introduced legislation Wednesday to undo the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the health care law’s contraceptive mandate for some corporate owners who object to coverage on religious grounds.
Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Mark Udall, D-Colo., filed the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act. The bill would prohibit any federal law—including the Religious Freedom Restoration Act that the ruling rests upon—from allowing employers to refuse contraceptive coverage to women.
“Women across the country are outraged, they are demanding a change,” Murray said. “At a time when 99 percent of sexually active women in the U.S. have used birth control, five justices decided last week that a CEO’s personal views can interfere with a woman’s access to this preventive health service.”
At a press conference on Capitol Hill, lawmakers criticized the majority in the 5-4 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., said Congress intended to protect the religious freedom of employees, but the Supreme Court “turned the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on its head.”
Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colo., one of the representatives who introduced the bill in the House, said: “One thing is clear about this opinion: Congress can fix this.” She said there are more than 60 cosponsors for the legislation in the House; Murray said there were 40 cosponsors for the Senate bill.
The legislation faces an uphill battle, even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has identified the bill as a priority. None of the cosponsors are Republicans, and House Speaker John Boehner described the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case as “a victory for religious freedom.”
Contact Todd Ruger at email@example.com. On Twitter: @ToddRuger.