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The Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman's Access to Contraception Act

Paul Gordon Collier-  The Senate Republicans have offered an alternative bill to the Not My Boss Business Act proposed by Senator Mark Udall (D).  Their Act is called the Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman’s Access to Contraception Act.  The bill was introduced by  U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), and Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE) yesterday.

The first part of the bill states that the Hobby Lobby decision by SCOTUS does not affect a woman’s right to choose to purchase birth control and abortifacients even if their employer is opposed to paying for them.

The second part of the bill prompts the Food and Drug Administration to conduct studies to determine if contraceptives can be offered safely without a prescription.

Finally, the Act would repeal the mandate by the Affordable Care Act that places limits on Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts, allowing women to more freely purchase over-the-counter-medications.  The $2500 cap on Flexible Spending Accounts would also be repealed, giving ‘women and their families with more purchasing power.’

“Our legislation makes it clear that no employer has the right to tell a woman she can’t use contraceptives,” said Senator Ayotte. “We can preserve access to contraception and protect religious freedom, and that’s what our legislation makes clear.”

The legislation is viewed by those inside the beltway as being a counter to the attempt by democrats to reinvigorate the ‘war on women’ narrative by offering an alternative to address some of the concerns of women brought about by the Hobby Lobby decision.

The press release by the Senators states, “The Preserving Religious Freedom and a Woman’s Access to Contraception Act affirms that employers cannot prohibit a woman from accessing contraception or any other FDA-approved drug or medical device; requests that the Food and Drug Administration study whether prescription contraceptives could be made available safely to adults without a prescription; and lifts the Obamacare cap on Flexible Spending Accounts and restores the use of Health Savings Accounts and Flexible Spending Accounts to cover over-the-counter medication – giving women and families more purchasing power.”

The bill is also sponsored by y Senators Richard Burr (R-NC), Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Mike Johanns (R-NE), John McCain (R-AZ), Rob Portman (R-OH), Jim Risch (R-ID), John Thune (R-SD), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).

No official word has come from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on this proposed legislation.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE PRESERVING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND A WOMAN’S ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION ACT: