Tester, Walsh move to keep pharmacies from standing between women, health care
Senators fight to protect Montana women from discrimination, ensure access to contraceptives
(U.S. SENATE) – In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, Senators Jon Tester and John Walsh are doing everything they can to make sure Montana women have access to needed preventative health care.
Tester and Walsh are backing legislation that would prevent pharmacies from discriminating against Montana women by denying them the sale of contraceptives. The Senators point to independent research by the Institute of Medicine that found access to contraceptive care is an important piece of women’s overall preventive health care.
“Making sure women have access to the care they need is always important, but especially in the wake of the Hobby Lobby decision,” Tester said. “The choice about contraceptives should be left up to a woman and her doctor. This bill keeps pharmacists from controlling a woman’s private decision and increases her access to care.”
“Individuals deserve to make their own healthcare decisions and not be compelled to make different choices simply due to where they live,” Walsh said. “Allowing women access to the best contraceptive choice a woman and her doctor have decided on is an essential part of ensuring women have complete access to preventive healthcare options.”
Tester and Walsh’s bill also prevents pharmacy employees from intimidating, threatening or deceiving a customer to keep them from receiving contraception.
Under the bill, pharmacies that do not carry contraception will not be required to do so, but those who do carry it must provide it to all customers with the required prescription from their doctors, without discrimination. A pharmacy employee may still refuse to provide a contraceptive if the customer does not have a prescription.
With the Hobby Lobby decision, the Supreme Court found that corporations can hold religious-based objections to providing insurance coverage for certain medical care, such as contraceptives.
In response, Tester and Walsh introduced the Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act to prevent employers from making healthcare decisions for their employees, but a minority of Senators blocked the bill last week.
Tester and Walsh’s Access to Birth Control Act is available below. Tester previously co-sponsored similar legislation introduced by former Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Lautenberg passed away in 2013, and Tester and Walsh are helping to re-introduce the bill.