Finally, some good news out of Washington.
Yesterday, Democratic Senators Patty Murray (WA) and Mark Udall (CO) introduced a new law in response to the Supreme Court’s recent Hobby Lobby ruling. The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act plans on doing just what its title suggests. It would make it illegal for any for-profit organization to deny its workers of health care guaranteed under federal law, namely contraception.
This act, if passed, would mean an immediate turnover of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Burwell. The Court ruled that under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, corporations were allowed exempt themselves from providing contraception (which, ahem, is guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act). The argument on the side of the Conservatives was one of protecting freedom of religion, but was viewed by many as another attempt at keeping women in their place.
The new law was introduced on Wednesday and would prevent employers from denying any health services (particularly birth control and other forms of contraception) to their employees because of the religious beliefs of the company. The bill does not, however, include non-profit religious organizations and houses of worship, which would still be free to do so.
The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act reportedly has the backing of the Obama Administration, as well as that of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), who is calling the passage of this act a top priority. “The only thing we’re going to do during this work period,” said Reid, “is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men.”
It’s a continuous struggle for women in the United States. Making any kind of change in the direction of equal rights has never been easy, and the passage of this law is certainly not going to be any exception, even with all the support its received. But Senator Murray remains optimistic, saying that “since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”
Overturning a Supreme Court ruling is no easy task, but it is a crucial one that Murray, and equal rights activists everywhere, are more than ready and willing to take on.