National Latina Institute Condemns Senator Rubio’s Bill Denying Birth-Control Coverage to Women

The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH) condemns the bill introduced today by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) that would add a sweeping expansion to the birth-control refusal clause under the new Affordable Care Act. The bill comes two weeks after the Obama Administration stood by the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) and the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) expert recommendations, protecting birth-control coverage for millions of women, and one week after a Lake Research poll found that strong majorities of Latino voters are willing to disagree with church leaders on reproductive-health issues.
“We know that Latinas are overwhelmingly in support of contraceptive coverage and that Latino/a voters are willing to disagree with church positions on reproductive health issues,” said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of NLIRH. “Senator Rubio’s bill is misguided and does not represent the position of the majority of Latino/a voters.”

HHS issued the birth-control standard earlier this year after the nonpartisan IOM recommended birth control be covered as a women’s preventive service and offered with no co-pays under the new Affordable Care Act. However, some organizations and lawmakers, including members of the Catholic Church hierarchy, wanted the Obama administration to add a wide-reaching and harmful expansion to the current refusal clause that is already in the Affordable Care Act, which gives an exemption for religious employers, like churches.
An expansion of the refusal clause could directly impact nearly 1 million people (and their dependents) who work at Catholic hospitals, as well as approximately 2 million students and workers at religiously affiliated universities. Millions of American workers would lose out on a new benefit that would finally make an essential health-care service affordable.
According to a recent survey conducted by Lake Research Partners on behalf of NLIRH and the Reproductive Health Technologies Project (RHTP), nearly 7 in 10 Latino voters agreed with the statement, “Even though church leaders take a position against abortion, when it comes to the law, I believe it should remain legal.” Research conducted by NLIRH also shows that Latinas want the full range of birthcontrol options available to them. And birth-control use is nearly universal in the United States: 99 percent of sexually experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women.
In November, the National Latina Institute and 20 other local and national organizations that advocate for Latinos issued a letter to President Obama urging him to “reject efforts that put the preferences of insurance companies and employers over the right of women to make their own contraceptive health decisions in consultation with their doctors.”
“Senator Rubio’s bill is out of step with the needs of the Latino/a community,” concluded González-Rojas. “We hope the Senator will drop this bill and take up issues more critical to the Latino/a community, such as expanding access to essential healthcare.”

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