Saturday night House Republicans decided to double down on their idea that they would not fund the government unless Obamacare was defunded for a year, an idea previously rejected by the Senate. However they did not stop there, they added in a “conscience clause” that would allow employers and insurers to opt out of preventative care for women if they find it objectionable on moral or religious grounds. While the provision is clearly aimed at contraceptive coverage, it would also affect any preventative care for women that the employer/insurer finds morally objectionable.
Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, explains why this is such a problem in an op-ed in Politico:
Think about what that means. If a retail chain is bought by someone who doesn’t believe women should have access to immunizations or screening for the human papillomavirus, then potentially lifesaving treatment that is proven to help prevent cervical cancer would not be part of the insurance coverage for any women at that company. If a woman works at a bank owned by a man who opposes contraception, her birth-control prescription would no longer be covered by her health-insurance plan. Same thing for breastfeeding support, domestic violence counseling, HIV testing and other preventive care.
The health of women should never be used as a bargaining chip. Luckily the Senate has rejected this bill, but the House by this action has made it clear that it will not waste any opportunity to wage a war on women. With no clear path to preventing a government shutdown or a breach of the debt ceiling, supporters of contraceptive health care coverage must be ever vigilant that the House does not carry on this senseless assault on women and their reproductive health.
Posted by Jennie Wetter, Director of Public Policy