Senate Democrats plan a key procedural vote Wednesday on easing the impact of the Supreme Court birth control decision, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Tuesday came out swinging against the Democrats’ efforts.
“I’ve been deeply disturbed by the misrepresentations that are being made about what the Hobby Lobby decision means, and some of them are already being made on the Senate floor,” she told reporters at a Capitol news conference.
“There is nothing in the Hobby Lobby ruling that allows a company to stop a woman from getting or filling a prescription for contraception,” she said. “Let me just say that again: Women can have access to contraception just as they could before ‘Obamacare,’ and there is nothing in the Hobby Lobby decision that allows an employer to know what their employee is having in terms of a prescription for contraception and nothing in the decision that prevents a woman from obtaining contraception.”
The court ruled in June that some some for-profit corporations to refuse contraceptive coverage to employees, because of the owners’ religious beliefs.
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Democrats plan a vote Wednesday on whether to limit debate on a measure to ease the impact. It will need 60 votes for approval; Democrats control 55 of the Senate’s 100 votes.
Ayotte argued that the court ruling “is about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This was a law that was signed into law by President Clinton to protect Americans' religious freedom. It used to be around here that this is something that we wanted to do on a bipartisan basis.”
She plans legislation that will “reaffirm that no employer can prohibit an employee from purchasing an FDA-approved drug or medical device, including contraception.” The bill also is “going to focus on expanding access for women to have access to contraception. And so we have a sense of the Senate and we are asking the FDA to undertake a study to determine whether over-the-counter purchase of contraception is safe and effective for adult women so that we can look at this issue to see, are there ways we can give greater access for women to purchase contraceptives? So that will be included in our bill.”
Finally, she said, “we want to increase affordability” by giving people “greater rights to use health savings accounts and flexible spending accounts.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, at his news conference, insisted legislation was badly needed--but legislation that would make it easier for women to get access to contraception.
“Women should not be denied health care because Republican men are too afraid to debate the issue on the Senate floor. Women across the country are watching,” he said.