As soon as this afternoon or tomorrow, the Senate is expected to vote on an amendment to the Transportation bill proposed by Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). This amendment is a reaction to the recent decision of the Obama administration to require most employers – excluding churches and houses of worship, but not other religiously-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and universities – to provide health care coverage that includes preventive care, including birth control without co-pays. Even though the administration issued an accommodation to the rule, legislators intent on dismantling birth control coverage are not satisfied, and Senator Blunt is one of them. The amendment he proposed, however, goes much further – it would not only overturn the birth control benefit, but allows employers and insurance companies to deny coverage for ANY essential health service that they object to on the basis of religious belief or moral conviction.
This extreme proposal is hugely expansive, and could mean anything from an employer choosing not to cover birth control to choosing not to cover prenatal care because of an employee’s sexual orientation or marital status. Personal decisions about health care belong in the hands of patients and their doctors – not employers. This amendment would result in increased health disparities for low-income women and women of color, including Latinas. Any woman, regardless of where she works, deserves access to the health care she needs. Tell your Senator to reject this extreme measure now!