[JURIST] US Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Mark Udall (D-CO) [official websites] on Wednesday introduced [official press release] a bill [text, PDF] that would require for-profit businesses to supply full contraceptive coverage guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, notwithstanding conflicting religious beliefs related to birth control. The bill is titled the “Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act of 2014,” and Senate Democrats intend to expedite the bill [Huffington Post report], which will bypass committee review and could reach the Senate floor as early as next week. Murray acted swiftly to propose the legislation in an attempt to undo the decision [SCOTUSblog op-ed] by the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, but experts say [NYT report] a companion bill in the US House of Representatives will face strong opposition from the Republican majority who have heralded the Hobby Lobby decision as a victory for religious freedom and the protection of First Amendment [text] rights.
The Contraception Mandate [JURIST backgrounder] of the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act (PPAHA) [text, PDF] has generated substantial political debate in the US. The US Supreme Court [official website] ruled [JURIST report] last month in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby [SCOTUSblog backgrounder] that closely held corporations can deny contraceptive coverage to their employees for religious reasons. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments [JURIST report] in the case in March. In between oral argument and last month’s decision, two JURIST guest columnists debated the impact of the Hobby Lobby decision for religious nonprofits and the modern application [JURIST op-eds] of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act (RFRA) [text, PDF] in light of the PPAHA.