In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case, Democrat lawmakers are hoping to draw Republicans into a fight about birth control by introducing legislation that would counter the high court’s ruling that the health law’s HHS mandate cannot require some businesses to provide free contraception and abortion-inducing drugs to their employees through health insurance plans.
The bills aim to amend the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which the Supreme Court used as the foundation of its decision that the HHS mandate violated federal law.
The Hill reports that at least three measures, currently being crafted in the House and Senate, are likely to be introduced prior to Congress’s August recess as part of a political strategy to rejuvenate Democrats’ messaging in the mid-term election year. Democrat lawmakers who supported ObamaCare and are considered vulnerable in the upcoming elections hope to lure their Republican counterparts into debates about reproductive rights as a way to turn out female voters.
“Last week’s decision reignited a conversation across the country reminding women once again that their access to healthcare has become a political issue, when it should be a basic right,” said Marcy Stech, national press secretary for Emily’s List. “It will drive women to the polls this November to vote for the women candidates who are on the right side of women’s access to basic healthcare.”
Similarly, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) spokesman Justin Barasky said, “This will be a huge motivator for women in the fall and a liability for Republican candidates up and down the map.”
However, Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski dismissed the notion that the high court’s ruling will help vulnerable Democrats.
“The polling shows that when we fight back, women believe in what we’re saying,” Republican National Committee spokeswoman Kirsten Kukowski said. “The Dems are a one-trick pony, and waging a false war on women is the only way they believe they can win. If you don’t fight back, why wouldn’t the voters believe them? Those days are over, and we’ve been very open and aggressive with our messaging and tactics.”
Kukowski’s comment relates to the fact that Democrats may have little else to offer women considering that, under the policies of the Obama administration, more of them have dropped out of the labor force completely.
Though details about three measures that are being considered by Democrats are still sketchy, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) is leading the way with a broad piece of legislation to protect employees’ access to birth control coverage.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) also has a plan that would require employers to disclose whether prescription birth control is covered in their company’s health insurance plan, a rule that could cause trouble for companies if they opt out.
Reps. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO) are each crafting legislation in the House to amend the RFRA in the wake of the high court’s ruling.
Helping the Democrats in their strategy are organizations like Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List. Citing a “war on women,” the political action arm of Planned Parenthood has already launched a text helpline for women affected by the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.
As The Hill states, Democrats are unconcerned about the fact that none of their measures will have the votes to pass the House. Instead, they hope to cast Republicans in a negative light, particularly with single, female voters, who could influence a turnover in the Senate from Democrat to Republican control.