WASHINGTON — Democrats in Congress said Tuesday that they had developed legislation to override the Supreme Court decision on contraceptives. The bill would ensure that women had access to insurance coverage for birth control even if they worked for businesses that had religious objections.
The bill, put together in consultation with the Obama administration, would require for-profit corporations like Hobby Lobby Stores to provide and pay for contraceptive coverage, along with other preventive health services, under the Affordable Care Act.
The measure could be on the Senate floor as early as next week, Senate Democrats said. House Democrats are developing a companion bill, but it faces long odds in the House, which is controlled by Republicans. Speaker John A. Boehner described the Hobby Lobby decision last week as “a victory for religious freedom.”
Senator Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington, who led efforts by Senate Democrats to respond to the ruling, said: “Your health care decisions are not your boss’s business. Since the Supreme Court decided it will not protect women’s access to health care, I will.”
Ms. Murray wrote her proposal with Senator Mark Udall, Democrat of Colorado.
The Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, Democrat of Nevada, said the legislation was high on his agenda.
“The one thing we’re going to do during this work period, sooner rather than later, is to ensure that women’s lives are not determined by virtue of five white men,” Mr. Reid said Tuesday. “This Hobby Lobby decision is outrageous, and we’re going to do something about it. People are going to have to walk down here and vote, and if they vote with the five men on the Supreme Court, I think they’re going to be treated unfavorably come November with the elections.”
In its 5-to-4 decision last week, the Supreme Court said that a federal rule requiring many employers to provide contraceptive coverage for female employees was unlawful because it violated a 1993 law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
That law says that the government “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion” unless the burden is “the least restrictive means” to advance “a compelling governmental interest.”
The court said that a family-owned for-profit corporation may engage, like an individual, in “the exercise of religion.”