U.S. Democrat bill to overturn Hobby Lobby decision rejected in Senate

The overturning of the proposed bill further enrages proponents of gender-equal health care, and is a boon for conservatives supporting religious liberties

The issue of women’s health care in the United States is one of the most fraught topics of this day and age. Landmark Supreme Court cases have dealt one way or another, and the Affordable Care Act has opened more doors for women’s access to health provisions, including contraception, that were previously inaccessible to those without employer-based health care programs, except at high cost. But the recent Supreme Court decision in the case of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby,which ruled that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects closely held corporations from having to cover birth control in their health insurance plans if they morally object to it, has set off a firestorm of protest.

In the wake of the public U.S. national outcry against that Supreme Court decision, the House and Senate Democrats introduced the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act, which would prevent for-profit companies from opting out of covering the full range of contraception for their employees. 

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) issued a statement on the Protect Women’s Health From Corporate Interference Act:

“For far too long, women were priced out of health care simply because of their gender. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, much of the discrimination women faced in the health insurance market was eliminated. It is unthinkable that as recently as last year, a woman's health care premiums could cost 45 to 140 percent more than a man’s.”

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Further reading:

Hobby Lobby decision creates controversy about contraception, Obamacare

Windham helped drive Hobby Lobby victory

Complaints seek maternity coverage for women on parents’ health insurance

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The bill was rejected in the Senate by a 56-43 vote.

While the bill would have overridden the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, it had the support of a doctors' association representing 90 percent of board-certified U.S. gynecologists. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with more than 55,000 members, supported the downed bill. Many in favor of upholding religious liberty have been in favor of supporting the Supreme Court’s decision. Still, the debate rages on. Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families issued a statement on the ruling:

“For the Senate to fail to pass the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, which would restore contraceptive coverage, was a painful reminder of how far we have to go before women’s health is no longer politicized, and women have the respect and equality we deserve.”

Contributing Author

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Juliana Kenny

Juliana Kenny is a contributor to InsideCounsel.com, covering a range of topics including patent litigation, conflict mineral laws, executive compensation, and antitrust regulation. Juliana earned B.A.s...

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