Senate Democrats Will Introduce Bill to Reverse Hobby Lobby

by Molly Wharton

Senate Democrats will introduce legislation to weaken the religious-freedom law that the Supreme Court used to decide the Hobby Lobby case last week, according to Talking Points Memo.

Senators Patty Murray (D., Wash) and Mark Udall (D., Colo.) will sponsor the legislation, which will reportedly be introduced as early as Tuesday. 

The ruling allows businesses a religious exemption from HHS’s requirement to cover certain contraceptives for their employees. According to a summary of the new legislation, it will prohibit employers from refusing to cover any type of health care required by federal law, including contraception. It would clarify that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the bipartisan 1993 law the Court relied on in its decision, does not grant exemptions for business to laws that they do not agree with. 

The bill also addresses legal challenges by religious nonprofits such as Wheaton College, which had objected to the accommodation that HHS grants religious nonprofits. The legislation states that this accommodation, which allows the groups to pass the cost of contraception onto insurance companies, is indeed sufficient in protecting the groups’ religious freedoms. 

Udall wrote a statement to TPM elaborating on the bill. ”The U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision opened the door to unprecedented corporate intrusion into our private lives,” he said. “My common-sense proposal will keep women’s private health decisions out of corporate board rooms, because your boss shouldn’t be able to dictate what is best for you and your family.”

A Democratic Senate aide told TPM that Udall will work to “bring this to the floor as quickly as possible.”

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