Proposed Bill Sends Hobby Lobby to Sensitivity Training

US Senator Tim Kaine, along with a host of other lawmakers and women's health organizations, quickly responded to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision with legislation designed to secure birth control access for all women regardless of their employer's religious whims. 

The majority-conservative Court's horrible decision has opened the door to a raft of lawsuits and possible bills from backwards lawmakers stuck in the Victorian era. Progress on women's health issues depends on advancements like universal access to counter these luddites.

But with an intransigent right wing, expect a filibuster in the Senate. Or, if by some miracle this legislation actually passes in an election year, you can be sure the GOP-dominated House would never go for it. 

Here's to hoping.

Sen. Kaine's press release in full:

KAINE INTRODUCES LEGISLATIVE FIX TO PROTECT WOMEN’S HEALTH IN AFTERMATH OF HOBBY LOBBY SUPREME COURT DECISION

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tim Kaine introduced the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act 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. Kaine joined lead Senate sponsors Patty Murray and Mark Udall and 34 of their Senate colleagues to introduce the bill in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby last month. Representatives Diana DeGette, Jerrold Nadler, and Louise Slaughter are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“I am proud to sponsor important legislation to protect women's right to health care from interference by their employers,” said Kaine. “The Hobby Lobby case held that certain companies could deny women contraceptive coverage for religious reasons while also citing that religious objections could not be used to bar coverage for other conditions. Contraception is an important preventive health service which has been constitutionally protected since the 1960s, but the Court has now made it fair game for corporate interference. This legislation will protect women's health choices.”

When the Supreme Court first heard arguments in Hobby Lobby, Kaine stated his firm belief that a woman has the right to make her own health care choices and that such decisions should not be left to corporate leadership. Kaine reiterated that sentiment when he expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the contraceptive coverage requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

“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, 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, 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 of birth control in our lifetimes, and all medical experts agree that these remedies should be included in comprehensive healthcare. 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 healthcare 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, 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.”

In introducing the legislation, Senator Kaine joined Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Walsh (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act has been endorsed by:

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
American Sexual Health Association
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals
Black Women's Health Imperative
Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)
Gender Justice
Global Justice Institute
Guttmacher Institute
Innovation Ohio
Institute for Science and Human Values
Lambda Legal
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Maine Women's Lobby
Methodist Federation for Social Action
Metropolitan Community Churches
NARAL Pro-Choice America
National Council of Jewish Women
National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association
National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
National Partnership for Women and Families
National Women's Law Center
People For the American Way
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Planned Parenthood Federation of America
Population Connection Action Fund
Secular Woman
The Center for Women Policy Studies
The National Abortion Federation
The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
The Women's Media Center
UniteWomen
Women's Business Development Center
Women's Law Project 

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