After last week's disgraceful Supreme Court ruling, that says employers can decide, based on arbitrary and unfounded religious beliefs, what birth control to cover in a woman's health care plan, Senate Democrats are moving to reverse the ruling. On Wednesday, July 9, Democrats in the Senate introduced a bill to bar for-profit companies from getting religious exemptions from the health care law.
The bill's chief sponsor was Patty Murray, Democrat minority leader from Washington State, and was co-sponsored by Mark Udall of Colorado. It has also picked up unlikely backers, including Mark Begich of Alaska. All have expressed hearing concerns from their constituents leading up to their respective re-election battles.“Coloradans understand that women should never have to ask their bosses for a permission slip to access common forms of birth control or other critical services,” said Udall. Women, especially in states like Alaska, have most likely expressed outrage over the ruling due to high rates of rape and domestic abuse in their state, making access to contraception even more urgent issue.
Although the action from the Senate is refreshing in its immediacy, the bill is not likely to get to the floor of the House, much less get a vote, due to ongoing Republican opposition. House Democrats Jerry Nadler, Louise Slaughter, and Diana DeGette plan to introduce legislation into the House. Without any Republican support in either chamber, however, the bill is probably dead on arrival. The issue has been extremely divisive leading up to and after the ruling, and promises to be an important election platform/policy issue going into the 2014 fall elections.