Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai"i) cosponsored the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act, legislation introduced by Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.) that would protect families from corporate interference and make sure that employers cannot deny women essential health benefits mandated by federal law, including birth control coverage.
"Corporations aren't people and they should not be given Constitutional rights," Senator Schatz said. "The health and welfare of people should always come before corporations. Our bill will ensure women have the right to make personal health care decisions for themselves and their families."
In a divided decision, the U.S. Supreme Court last month ruled in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that closely-held private corporations can impose their religious beliefs on women by denying them birth control coverage as part of their health insurance.
"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."
Representatives Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives. Cosponsors of the Senate bill include, Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawai"i), Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), John Walsh (D-Mont.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).