Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on Wednesday slammed legislation that would allow employers to refuse to pay for health insurance coverage of specific services if it would be contrary to their religious beliefs or moral convictions.
“When will my colleagues understand this very non-debatable fact, that the decision of whether a woman takes one medicine or another or what type of health care she should have access to should not be the decision of her boss?” Gillibrand said on the Senate floor.
“A commonsense, simple principle that bosses and employers should not make these very personal decisions. What could be more intrusive than that?”
The proposal, sponsored by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), was offered as an amendment to an unrelated transportation bill in response to new federal government rules regarding contraception coverage.
Controversy has erupted over the policy, which requires virtually all private insurance policies to cover family planning, including female contraceptives, essentially guaranteeing near universal access to birth control once all the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are implemented.
The White House offered to change the rules by exempting additional religious organizations with moral objections. Instead, the insurance companies would be required to pay for those services for employees of exempted organizations.
A number of Catholic groups supported the compromise, but Republicans have derided it as nothing more than an “accounting gimmick.”
“This extreme amendment Republicans are bringing up for a vote today makes it clear as day, this is a political and ideological overreach, not a religious issue,” Gillibrand said. “The fact that they want to exempt all businesses from providing any preventive care for a woman is outrageous and a clear, callous disregard of the health and well-being of America’s women.”
“This amendment isn’t just dangerous for women,” she noted. “It’s also dangerous to our children, and children’s health groups are opposing this amendment because vaccines could be denied on the basis of personal beliefs.”
The Senate is expected to vote on the amendment on Thursday.
Watch video, uploaded to YouTube, below: