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Planned Parenthood Action Fund Says Senate Votes Against Birth Control Access Shows Troubling Lack of Understanding of Women’s Lives

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 07.16.14

Planned Parenthood Action Fund Says Senate Votes Against Birth Control Access
Shows Troubling Lack of Understanding of Women’s Lives

“There are clear choices all over the country this November — between people who will perpetuate these attacks on women’s health and rights or people who will stand with women and fight back."

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Action Fund released the following statement today condemning politicians in the U.S. Senate who voted against a bill that would protect women’s access to no-copay birth control no matter where they work. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act was introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) and their allies on the heels of the devastating and unpopular Supreme Court ruling in favor of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby — giving bosses a legal right to deny their employees access to insurance coverage of birth control without a copay, as required by the Affordable Care Act. The bill received bipartisan support of 56 Senators, but failed to get the necessary 60 votes to move forward.  A similar piece of legislation has been introduced in the House by Representatives Louise Slaughter (NY-25), Diana DeGette (CO-1), and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10).

Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

There are clear choices all over the country this November — between people who will perpetuate these attacks on women’s health and rights or people who will stand with women and fight back. The fact that some politicians voted against this commonsense measure shows a troubling level of disregard for American women, who should be able to make private medical decisions without asking for a permission slip from their bosses.

“We praise Senators Patty Murray, Mark Udall and our allies in the Senate for voting in support of women’s health today. Like the majority of Americans, they understand that decisions about birth control belong between a woman and her doctor — not a woman and her boss.

“This bill would ban employers from refusing to provide any health coverage — including contraceptive coverage — guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law, and would prohibit bosses from denying women the birth control coverage they have earned. It protects women by restoring the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed as a part of the Affordable Care Act, as well as other health services. This commonsense legislation received bipartisan support and a majority vote in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by extremists who are working to undermine coverage of birth control at every turn.

"As a 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.”

After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — rightly categorizing birth control as part of women’s basic preventive care.  According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 30 million women nationally are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

This bill will restore the original legal guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans and will protect coverage of other health services from employer interference as well. One of the dangers of the Supreme Court’s decision is that it may embolden employers to try to refuse to cover other critical health services such as vaccines, blood transfusions and HIV treatment.  As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her dissent “[t]he Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

Thanks to the birth control benefit, women already have saved $483 million in the last year alone. Studies also show that women who receive birth control with no copay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion. It’s not surprising that the public overwhelmingly supports the birth control benefit by a nearly two-to-one margin.

After hearing from women across the country who are concerned and confused about what the Hobby Lobby ruling means for them, Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched a text helpline for people who are being denied coverage or have questions about their access to birth control. People can text "birth control" to 69866 to report a denial of coverage or to get help accessing birth control. They receive an immediate response and can state a preference of follow-up by e-mail or phone to get more details.

Earlier today, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and Planned Parenthood Votes released a series of digital ads in five states to educate voters about which candidates want to turn back the clock and believe that bosses should be able to deny their employees access to birth control.  The ads are part of the organizations’ Women are Watching campaign and target Thom Tillis in North Carolina, Cory Gardner in Colorado, Joni Ernst in Iowa, Dan Sullivan in Alaska and Greg Abbott in Texas.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.