Liberals Look for Another Way to Make Free Birth Control Available to Women

July 1, 2014 - 4:52 AM

Birth Control Politics

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., accompanied by Senate Majority Whip Sen. Richard Durbin of Ill., speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 1, 2012, after defeating a Republican effort to roll back President Barack Obama's policy on contraception insurance coverage. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

(CNSNews.com) - "Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women's access to health care, I will," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said Monday.

“Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business – period," Murray said. "In the coming days, I will work with my colleagues and the administration to protect this access, regardless of who signs your paycheck."

A White House spokesman said the administration will press Congress to make sure that the women who work for companies such as Hobby Lobby have access "to the preventative coverage that they deserve."

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled 5-4 that federal law -- the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act of 1993 -- protects some for-profit businesses from having to provide contraception that kills a fertilized egg.

The Supreme Court's majority opinion said that Obamacare's contraceptive mandate -- the dictate from the Health and Human Services Administration that employers' group health plans must offer no-cost birth control to women -- "substantially burdens the exercise of religion." The mandate would have forced the owners of Hobby Lobby and two other closely-held for-profit companies to "engage in conduct that seriously violates their sincere religious belief that life begins at conception."

In his concurring opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that the government itself could pay for the birth control methods that religious employers find objectionable, and that's apparently what Murray intends to propose.

“Contraceptive coverage is supported by, and benefits, the vast majority of Americans who understand how important it is for women and families. It should not be a controversial issue,” Murray said.

She noted that when Obamacare is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-pay birth control under the Affordable Care Act.

Murray's fellow Democrat, Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he will introduce legislation requiring all corporations that "deny or limit contraception services to disclose this policy to all employed and applicants for employment."

Durbin said workers "have a right to know if their employers are restricting the availability of a full range of family planning coverage.”

President Obama has not commented publicly on the Supreme Court's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case, but his spokesman did:

"The Supreme Court ruled today that some bosses can now withhold contraceptive care from their employees' health coverage based on their own religious views that their employees may not even share. President Obama believes that women should make personal health care decisions for themselves rather than their bosses deciding for them," Josh Earnest said on Monday.

"Today's decision jeopardizes the health the women who are employed by these companies. As millions of women know first hand, contraception is often vital to their health and well-being. That's why the Affordable Care Act ensures that women have coverage for contraceptive care, along with other preventative care like vaccines and cancer screenings.

"We will work with Congress to make sure that any women affected by this decision will still have the same coverage of vital health services as everyone else."

He said the White House will urge Congress to make sure that the women who work for companies covered by the Supreme Court ruling "have access to the preventative coverage that they deserve and that the Institute of Medicine, that's run by impartial, nonpolitical scientists, believes that they should have access to.

"So that's what we're -- that's what we're focused on. And we believe that this, because of the Supreme Court decision today, that Congress should act to address the concerns of the women who are affected by this decision."