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Planned Parenthood praises WV leaders for protecting women's access to birth control

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A group from Planned Parenthood praised two West Virginia lawmakers for voting July 16 to “protect women’s access to no-copay birth control no matter where they work.”

Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund praises U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, Sen. Joe Manchin III, both D-W.Va., and their allies in the U.S. Senate for voting for the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act. The act was introduced on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of arts and crafts chain Hobby Lobby — giving bosses a legal right to deny their employees access to insurance coverage of birth control without a copay, as required by the Affordable Care Act.

“We praise Senator Jay Rockefeller and Senator Joe Manchin III for voting in support of women’s health. Sen. Rockefeller and Sen. Manchin, like the majority of Americans, understand that decisions about birth control belong between a woman and her doctor — not a woman and her boss,” Caitlin Palmer, West Virginia Field Director for Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund said in a statement.

“This bill would ban employers from refusing to provide any health coverage — including contraceptive coverage — guaranteed to their employees and dependents under federal law, and would prohibit bosses from denying women the birth control coverage they have earned. It protects women by restoring the contraceptive coverage requirement guaranteed as a part of the Affordable Care Act, as well as other health services. This commonsense legislation received bipartisan support and a majority vote in the U.S. Senate, but was defeated by extremists who are working to undermine coverage of birth control at every turn. Planned Parenthood Health Systems Action Fund is committed to making sure women can get the no-copay birth control benefit that we and others fought so hard to pass and protect.”

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 30 million women nationally and 162,000 women in West Virginia are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally and over 285,000 women in West Virginia will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Manchin said he voted in support of overturning the Supreme Court's decision.

“I voted in support of overturning the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision that ruled for-profit companies can opt out of providing contraceptives to their employees because of religious beliefs. As Governor and U.S. Senator, I have always fought to protect the sincerely-held religious views of non-profit organizations, like soup kitchens, colleges, hospitals and similar non-profit organizations. However, for-profit corporations do not have the same legal privileges as non-profits, and therefore they should not have the same protections as non-profits recognized by law as being a religious organization. This legislation strikes a balance between allowing non-profit organizations to hold onto their religious views while ensuring that Americans have access to safe, affordable and reliable preventative health benefits,” Manchin said in a news release July 16.

Manchin said the bill would restore the original legal guarantee that women have access to contraceptive coverage through their employment-based insurance plans and will protect coverage of other health services from employer interference as well. One of the dangers of the Supreme Court’s decision is that it may embolden employers to try to refuse to cover other critical health services such as vaccines, blood transfusions and HIV treatment. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her dissent “(t)he Court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”

After hearing from women across the country who are concerned and confused about what the Hobby Lobby ruling means for them, Planned Parenthood Action Fund launched a text helpline for people who are being denied coverage or have questions about their access to birth control. People can text "birth control" to 69866 to report a denial of coverage or to get help accessing birth control. They receive an immediate response and can state a preference of follow-up bye-mail or phone to get more details.