Murray: If Hobby Lobby wins, what’s next?

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said if corporations were allowed to claim religious exemptions when deciding to provide healthcare coverage, what would stop them from other discriminations. 

“If these CEO’s are allowed to evade this law, what would happen to other legal protections for employees?” Murray said Tuesday. “Could your boss decide not to cover HIV treatment? Could an employer opt out of having to comply with anti-discrimination laws? Corporations should not be able to use religion as a license to discriminate.”

Murray’s comment came as the Supreme Court heard the first day or oral arguments in a case brought by Hobby Lobby, a craft retail chain owned by religious conservatives. Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to provide birth control to its employees because the owners claim it violates their religious beliefs.

“We can’t allow for-profit, secular, corporations or their shareholders to deny female employees’ access to comprehensive women’s health care, under the guise of a ‘religious exemption,’” Murray said. “It’s as if we’re saying that because you are a CEO or shareholder in a corporation, your rights are more important than your employees who happen to be women.”

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) — also known as ObamaCare — all insurance plans must include basic preventive healthcare for women or else employers providing coverage will face a fine. 

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said the administration is trying to force “abortions” through contraception, but the birth control pill does not terminate pregnancies, it prevents them for occurring. Inhofe voiced his support for Hobby Lobby, which is based in his state.

“There is a man who has built up a company and is employing activity 16,000 people … and along comes the Obama administration and ObamaCare, says we’re going to fine you $1.3 million a day if you don’t allow these abortions,” Inhofe said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Murray said this attempt to repeal part of the ACA would also turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights.

“Allowing a woman’s boss to call the shots about her access to birth control should be inconceivable to all Americans in this day and age, and takes us back to a place in history when women had no voice and no choice,” Murray said. “What's at stake in this case before the Supreme Court is whether a CEO's personal beliefs can trump a woman's right to access free or low-cost contraception under the Affordable Care Act.”

Murray led in filing a brief from senators in the Hobby Lobby case.

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