By Ferdous Al-Faruque - 07/09/14 10:15 AM EDT
House Democrats are proposing legislation that would prevent employers from denying birth-control coverage to women, an option now available to some private companies under last week’s Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision.
Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairwomen of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, and Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday will file the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 in the House.
Under the bill, for-profit companies with group health plans would not be allowed to use religious beliefs to deny employees contraception coverage or any other vital health service required by federal law.
In the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court said the ObamaCare mandate to require free contraception was overly burdensome under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).
The House bill takes on that issue directly and states federally mandated health services are exempt from RFRA scrutiny unless they are religious employers such as churches or religious non-profits who object to contraception.
Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) plan to file an identical bill on the other side of the Capitol on Wednesday.
Pro-abortion rights groups hailed the Democratic bill.
“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,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “This bill would help close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it."
The two bills are part of a concerted effort by Democrats to turn the birth-control decision into a motivating force for the liberal base in the midterm elections.