A bill introduced by Senate Democrats to reverse the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case was blocked by a procedural vote on Wednesday.
Although 56 Senators voted to move the bill forward, the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act did not receive the 60 votes necessary to overcome a filibuster. The bill, sponsored by Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO), would have prohibited for-profit employers from refusing to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Women across the country today watched as all but three Republicans showed they care more about protecting the rights of CEOs and corporations than about protecting the rights of women to access critical healthcare coverage,” said Senator Murray at a news conference. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), voted in favor of the bill.
On June 30, the US Supreme Court held in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby that “closely held,” for-profit corporations would not be required to provide health insurance coverage for contraception if the owners had a religious objection. The term “closely held” has not been clearly defined, but the Wall Street Journal estimates 90 percent of all companies in the US fall under this category.
Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal said the Hobby Lobby decision “not only deprives women of comprehensive healthcare, but… sets a terrifying standard in affirming the ‘personhood’ of corporations.”
Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) indicated Wednesday that he intended to hold another vote on the bill later this year.
Media Resources: Politico 7/16/14; Reuters 7/16/14; Feminist Newswire 7/8/14, 7/1/14; Wall Street Journal 6/30/14