WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) today announced his support for the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, which would 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.
“Congress has a responsibility to act. Allowing employers to force their own religious beliefs on their employees under the guise of religious freedom is inexplicable. The Supreme Court has put the health of American women at risk while opening the door for private employers who are looking for a reason not to comply with the law,” said Senator Cardin. In January, Senators Cardin and 18 of his colleagues filed an amicus brief in support of the government’s position in the case.
“Whether a woman uses contraception should be a private decision not subject to a financial veto by her employer. The Affordable Care Act guarantees the majority of women coverage for comprehensive preventive health services, including contraception. Imposing additional financial burdens on a woman because her employer claims to hold certain beliefs contrary to the law sets a dangerous precedent,” Senator Cardin added.
“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.”
“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 a 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.”
Senator Cardin joined Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) in introducing the legislation today, along with Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Timothy Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Charles Schumer (D-NY), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Walsh (D-Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). Representatives Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.