Senate Republicans blasted a Democratic bill Wednesday to reverse the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" ruling on birth control as "really stupid politics" that treads on religious liberty, cuing up a partisan fight over messaging to women voters ahead of the fall's midterms elections.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, said Congress has never passed a law that would restrict, rather than expand, religious freedoms under the First Amendment.
"I don't care which party you're in, you're got to really think it through when you start infringing on religious freedoms," he said, flanked outside the Capitol by advocates from an array of religious faiths.
Republicans are pushing back against a Democrat-sponsored bill that would require corporations to insure health services if they're legally mandated to do so.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, plans to put the "Not My Boss' Business Act" up for a key test vote later on Wednesday.
It is a direct response to the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision that closely held corporations do not have to cover contraceptives they object to on moral or religious grounds, even though an Obamacare rule required them to cover 20 forms of birth control as part of company health plans.
The court relied on a 1993 law that says the government cannot infringe on religious liberties unless it has a compelling reason to and does it in the least restrictive way possible.
The bill was authored by Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, and Sen. Mark Udall, Colorado Democrat locked in a tight reelection battle with Rep. Cory Gardner, a Republican.
Republicans say the bill is a political ploy to distort the ruling and rev up female voters so Democrats do not suffer from poor turnout in November.
Despite their political foes' rhetoric, Republicans said the Hobby Lobby ruling does not block a woman from acquiring contraceptives of their choice.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has introduced a bill that reaffirms a women's right to access contraceptives of her choosing. It will also require the FDA to study the sale of contraceptives without a prescription and allow women to set aside more money in Health Savings Accounts.
"Republicans continue to insist that we can and should be in the business of protecting everyone's rights," Mr. McConnell said Wednesday on the Senate floor. "We think that, instead of restricting Americans' religious freedoms, Congress should instead work to preserve a woman's ability to make contraceptive decisions for herself."
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