Bill Would Restore Federal Protections on Heels of Hobby Lobby Decision
WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Action Fund welcomed the planned introduction of legislation to protect women’s access to no-copay birth control no matter where they work. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act will be introduced in the Senate today by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) and in the House by Representatives Louise Slaughter (NY-28), Diana DeGette (CO-1), and Jerrold Nadler (NY-10). It comes on the heels of a devastating and unpopular Supreme Court ruling last week in favor of arts and craft 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.
Statement from Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund:
“Congress needs to protect women’s access to birth control. This bill would ensure that women have access to the full range of birth control without their boss or politicians or judges getting in the way. 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 close the door for denying contraception before more corporations can walk through it.
“The Supreme Court’s decision last week will have very real consequences for women. It’s unbelievable that women who are raped on college campuses — or anywhere — could be denied coverage for emergency contraception and that nearly half a million women who use birth control to treat endometriosis and protect their fertility could lose coverage for that health care. Over the last few days, we’ve heard from hundreds of thousands of people across the country who are concerned and outraged about the Supreme Court’s ruling and want Congress to take action. In the days, weeks, and months ahead, we will work vigorously to help pass this law, and we will hold senators who vote against this bill accountable with their constituents.
"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. The senate should move quickly to pass this bill to protect women’s access to birth control coverage, without employers like Hobby Lobby getting in the way.”
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 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.
On Monday, 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 email or phone to get more details.