Jul 15 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) today introduced legislation that would protect Americans’ religious freedoms while preserving women’s access to contraceptives.
The Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman’s Access to Contraception Act affirms that employers cannot prohibit a woman from accessing contraception or any other FDA-approved drug or medical device; requests that the Food and Drug Administration study whether prescription contraceptives could be made available safely to adults without a prescription; and lifts the Obamacare cap on Flexible Spending Accounts and restores the use of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to cover over-the-counter medication – giving women and families more purchasing power.
“Instead of restricting Americans’ religious freedoms, we should preserve a woman’s ability to make contraceptive decisions for herself,” Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said. “That’s why we introduced legislation to clarify that an employer cannot block any employee from legal access to her FDA-approved contraceptives. The American people know you can support religious freedom and access to contraception. The goal shouldn’t be to protect the freedoms of some while denying the freedoms of others. The goal is to preserve everyone’s freedoms.”
“Our legislation makes it clear that no employer has the right to tell a woman she can’t use contraceptives,” said Senator Ayotte. “We can preserve access to contraception and protect religious freedom, and that’s what our legislation makes clear.”
“It is entirely possible to both stand tall for the principle of religious freedom and to support safe access to birth control – the two are not mutually exclusive,” said Senator Fischer. “Rather than seeking to divide Americans for political gain, this straightforward proposal brings people together around commonsense ideas millions of Americans already support.”
The bill is being cosponsored by Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Johanns (R-NE), John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESERVING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND A WOMAN’S ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION ACT:
Clarifies the Law – The legislation reaffirms that the Supreme Court’s decision in Hobby Lobby did nothing to change a woman’s ability to access birth control and other contraception. If a woman chooses, she is free to purchase contraception regardless of the views of her employer.
Safe Access – The legislation includes a Sense of the Senate that the Food and Drug Administration should study whether contraceptives can be made available safely without a prescription to adults, ensuring a scientific evaluation of available evidence around the safety and efficacy of contraception.
Increases Affordability – The legislation would repeal the Obamacare mandate which limits the use of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to medications that require a prescription, giving women more freedom to purchase over-the-counter medications. The bill also lifts the $2,500 cap on Flexible Spending Accounts, providing women and their families with more purchasing power.