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Updated: July 17, 2014
As expected, Democratic members of the House and Senate have introduced legislation in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. The Court in this contentious decision held that closely-held for-profit entities with religious objections to certain aspects of the birth control mandate imposed by the Affordable Care Act could avoid the mandate by invoking the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). As discussed in a press release on the new measure, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014 (H.R. 5051, S. 2578) 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.
Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, while Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) sponsored companion legislation in the Senate.
Update: On July 16, 2014, a motion to advance the bill in the Senate failed by a vote of 56-43. At least 60 votes were needed.