Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement on her efforts to protect access to comprehensive health care after Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, in which the Supreme Court held that closely held private companies could prevent employees who are women from obtaining certain contraceptives through their health insurance.
Congresswoman Clarke has become an original co-sponsor of the Protect Women's Health From Corporate Interference Act of 2014, which would explicitly prohibit for-profit employers that maintain a group health plan for its employees from using religious beliefs to deny employees coverage of contraception or any other vital health service required by federal law. The bill exempts federally mandated health services from RFRA while keeping in place the existing exemption for religious employers (e.g., houses of worship) and accommodation of religious non-profits who do not wish to provide contraceptives. This bill is the Democratic legislative response to the Hobby Lobby decision.
"As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg explained in her dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the decision could undermine comprehensive health insurance by allowing exemptions for other forms of treatment, such as HIV / AIDS retroviral drugs, blood transfusions, or heart valve replacement surgery. Many Americans, based on their religious beliefs, consider these practices unacceptable. But each person should have the opportunity to choose the best health care option available to them. The owners of a closely held private company or any private company should not interfere with that choice," said Congresswoman Clarke, who signed an amicus curiae brief in the Hobby Lobby case that asked the Supreme Court to protect women's access to contraceptive coverage. "Contraceptives are used by ninety-nine percent of women in the United States. We cannot allow the Supreme Court to limit their access to these critical services."