Press Release

Hobby Lobby: Schumer, Gillibrand To Introduce Legislative Fix To Protect Women’s Health In Aftermath Of Supreme Court Decision

Jul 9, 2014

(Washington, D.C.)—  Today, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand will introduce the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act to restore the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and protect coverage of other health services from employers who want to impose their beliefs on their employees by denying benefits. Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) are introducing companion legislation in the House of Representatives.

“RFRA was intended to give individuals who profess strong religious beliefs what they had always enjoyed – the strong presumption that they should be able to exercise their religious beliefs without government interference,” said Senator Schumer. “RFRA was not intended to extend the same protection to for-profit corporations, whose very purpose is to profit from the open market;  the Supreme Court’s decision is unprecedented under the Free Exercise Clause, goes far beyond RFRA’s intention, and is dead-wrong. This decision immediately denies thousands of women basic rights to healthcare and contraceptives and by putting health care decisions in the hands of a woman’s boss, the decision creates a slippery slope that could affect tens of millions of Americans in the future.”

“It is shocking that in 2014, women still have to fight over access to birth control. For the first time in our history, the Supreme Court has declared that some for-profit corporations have religious beliefs and can impose those beliefs on their employees,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Congress must make it clear that businesses are not people and do not have the same rights people have. This legislation will help right this wrong by ensuring that no boss can use their personal belief to limit what health care services an employee has access to.”

“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.”

“This critical legislation will protect women’s health care services guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act and safeguard their rights,” said Marcia D. Greenberger, Co-President, National Women’s Law Center. “Women have worked for and earned the right to have their health needs covered—just as men do.  This legislation makes it unmistakably clear that businesses, in the name of religion, can neither discriminate against their female employees nor impose their religious beliefs on them.  Bosses should stick to what they know best—the board room and the bottom line—and stay out of the bedroom and exam room.”

Senators Schumer and Gillibrand were joined in introducing the legislation today by: Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Mark Udall (D-CO), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Mark Begich (D-AK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Al Franken (D-MN), Kay Hagan (D-NC), Tom Harkin (D-IA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Timothy Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Carl Levin (D-MI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Tom Udall (D-NM), John Walsh (D-MT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

In June, Senator Gillibrand called the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to allow some employers to refuse to cover contraception as part of employees’ health insurance policies misguided and urged her Congressional colleagues to change the law.

The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act has been endorsed by:

American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American Sexual Health Association

Americans United for Separation of Church and State

Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum

Association of Reproductive Health Professionals

Black Women’s Health Imperative

Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights (COLOR)

Gender Justice

Global Justice Institute

Guttmacher Institute

Innovation Ohio

Institute for Science and Human Values

Lambda Legal

Law Students for Reproductive Justice

Maine Women’s Lobby

Methodist Federation for Social Action

Metropolitan Community Churches

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Council of Jewish Women

National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Partnership for Women and Families

National Women’s Law Center

People For the American Way

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Population Connection Action Fund

Secular Woman

The Center for Women Policy Studies

The National Abortion Federation

The United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society

The Women’s Media Center


Women’s Business Development Center

Women’s Law Project