The Alabama House of Representatives has approved a bill that would exempt some religious employers from offering employee health insurance plans that include free birth control.
HB 108, the so-called “Religious Liberties Act of 2013,” passed 67-28. It would exempt “religiously motivated employers,” which are defined as church-affiliated or “any entity that has 10 or less shareholders, members, or partners who have religious beliefs which oppose contraceptive or abortifacient drugs, devices, or methods.”
Rep. Lynn Greer (R-Rogersville), a business owner, said, “I shouldn’t have to violate my constitutional rights for anyone else, especially if I’m the employer,” the Decatur Daily reported.
But House Democrats slammed the measure as an attack on women.
“We’re always punitive about this,” Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham) said. “We say we don’t want women to have abortions, but we don’t want them to have access to birth control.”
Other Democrats said the legislation could lead to a losing lawsuit for the state.
“Will you keep up with it, when it’s challenged? How much money are we spending to defend it?” Rep. Marcel Black (D-Tuscumbia) asked.
Various courts are now considering whether non-religious employers should have to offer employee insurance plans that include access to free birth control as part of the Obama administration’s health care mandate.
The bill is now up for consideration by Alabama’s Senate.