Udall, Murray Announce Legislative Fix to Protect Womens Health in Aftermath of U.S. Supreme Court Decision
U.S. Senators Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) will introduce legislation today to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits. The Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act would ban employers from refusing to provide health coverage — including contraceptive coverage — guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law.
"The U.S. Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives. Coloradans understand that women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control or other critical health services," 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."
"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," Murray said. "This bicameral legislation will ensure that no CEO or corporation can come between people and their guaranteed access to health care, period. I hope Republicans will join us to revoke this court-issued license to discriminate and return the right of Americans to make their own decisions, about their own health care and their own bodies."
"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," said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "As the nation's leading advocate for women’s reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood Action Fund is committed to making sure women can get the no-copay birth control benefit that we and others fought so hard to pass and protect. No woman should lose access to birth control because her boss doesn't approve of it."
"Last week, we heard a collective gasp across the country as Americans everywhere tried to make sense of five male Justices on the Supreme Court deciding that our bosses could have control over our birth control in the Hobby Lobby decision," said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. "Today, we hear those gasps turn to cheers as we see champions in Congress move to right this wrong. Ninety-nine percent of American women use some form a of birth control in our lifetimes, and all medical experts agree that these remedies should be included in comprehensive health care. Anything less than this amounts to discrimination against women in the workplace. If there's one thing we can agree upon more than the idea that politicians aren't equipped to decide for us how and when and with whom we have families, it's that our bosses are even less so. This bill is the first step in making sure those personal health care decision stay where they belong — in the hands of the women whose lives are affected."
"This critical legislation will protect women’s health care services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and safeguard their rights," said Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center. "Women have worked for and earned the right to have their health needs covered — just as men do. This legislation makes it unmistakably clear that businesses, in the name of religion, can neither discriminate against their female employees nor impose their religious beliefs on them. Bosses should stick to what they know best — the board room and the bottom line — and stay out of the bedroom and exam room."
A broad coalition of lawmakers joined Udall and Murray in introducing the legislation today: U.S. Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), John Walsh (D-Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).
Udall decried the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week to allow some employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of employees' health insurance policies and vowed to introduce legislation to restore Americans' freedom to make their own health care decisions without corporate intrusion. A longtime champion for Colorado women's access to affordable health care, Udall has fought to expand access to preventive health care services for women and has championed women's rights to make their own health care decisions.