WASHINGTON – Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand of New York joined several other Democratic senators Wednesday in introducing legislation aimed at overturning last week’s Supreme Court decision granting companies the right to deny contraceptive coverage to their employees if doing so violates the religious faith of the companies’ owners.
The Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act would restore the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all employers who offer health insurance include comprehensive contraceptive coverage. The high court ruled that the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act stands in the way of that requirement taking effect for business owners who object to birth control on religious grounds.
“For the first time in our history, the Supreme Court has declared that some for-profit corporations have religious beliefs and can impose those beliefs on their employees,” said Gillibrand. “Congress must make it clear that businesses are not people and do not have the same rights people have. This legislation will help right this wrong by ensuring that no boss can use their personal belief to limit what health care services an employee has access to.”
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, a New York Democrat who pushed for the Religious Freedom Restoration Act while serving as a member of the House, joined Gillibrand in introducing the bill along with 35 other Democratic senators.
The strong early show of support indicates that the legislation may have a future in the Democrat-controlled Senate, but it’s unlikely to pass the Republican-led House, given that House Speaker John Boehner praised the high court’s ruling last week in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby case.
Boehner, R-Ohio, called the Hobby Lobby ruling “a victory for religious freedom and another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its big government objectives.”
Nevertheless, Gillibrand said it’s important for Congress to push to have the ruling overturned.
“It is shocking that in 2014, women still have to fight over access to birth control,” Gillibrand said.