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Congress Wades Further Into Obamacare’s Contraception Debate Congress Wades Further Into Obamacare’s Contraception Debate

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Health Care

Congress Wades Further Into Obamacare’s Contraception Debate

As the battle moves toward the Supreme Court, lawmakers gear up their efforts.

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Orrin Hatch banded with 14 of his congressional colleagues to fight the Obamacare contraception mandate.(Chet Susslin)

Fifteen Republican members of Congress are lobbying the Supreme Court to overturn Obamacare's contraception mandate on grounds that it violates a law signed by Bill Clinton.

The 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act aims to hold the federal government responsible for protecting religious freedoms when lawmaking and to strengthen individuals' First Amendment rights to religious liberty.

 

"Religious freedom should not be a political issue," said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah in a press release. "It is one of our country's founding principles, and I'm hopeful that the Supreme Court will reconfirm that our country will not stand for forcing one's beliefs onto others who may morally object to them."

The congressional coalition led by Hatch, the act's primary Republican sponsor, filed the brief ahead of the Supreme Court's consideration of two cases brought by private, for-profit companies with religious objections to offering contraceptive coverage to employees. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood are scheduled to present their arguments to the Court on March 25.

The administration did not respond to a request for comment.

 

But shortly after the Republicans' announcement, 91 Democratic members of Congress filed a counter brief with the Supreme Court, arguing that contraceptive coverage among other preventive care measures are "the least restrictive means of accomplishing Congress' goal of ensuring the necessary healthcare coverage for women."

In the brief, the Democrats, led by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, said the contraception mandate does not require corporations to abandon their beliefs, and rather, requires them to allow employees to make their own decisions about their health.

This post was updated at 12:45 p.m. to include the subsequent brief filed by the Democratic Congressional caucus.

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