Udall Fronts Hobby Lobby Fix While Gardner Says “Make ‘Em Pay”

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

Mark Udall, Cory Gardner.

​The Colorado Independent's Tessa Cheek reports from yesterday's press conference on legislation, introduced by Colorado Sen. Mark Udall, to undo last week's Hobby Lobby Supreme Court ruling relieving many corporations of "Obamacare's" obligation to cover contraceptives in their health insurance plans:

Senator Mark Udall joined women’s health advocates today to discuss his newest bill, which would effectively overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision allowing “closely held” private companies, specifically craft store Hobby Lobby, to opt-out of employee health coverage that violates their religious beliefs.

“With up to 90 percent of American companies considered ‘closely held,’ the Hobby Lobby decision means that millions of working Americans’ access to crucial health care services may be threatened,” Udall said. “These corporations employ about half of all American workers. That means half of our bosses can now pick and choose which contraception and other health care services work best for our families.”

Udall’s bill, “The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act,” clarifies that the law the Supreme Court based their decision on — The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) — cannot be used to allow for-profit corporations to limit any legal health care service.

“The men and women who went to work for Hobby Lobby signed up to work at a craft store, not a religious organization,” Udall said. His bill would not impact the coverage exemptions already granted to some non-profit religious organizations like churches.

As the AP reports, Sen. Udall's response to the Hobby Lobby ruling comes in stark contrast to that of his Republican opponent Cory Gardner. Partially in hope of squelching Gardner's longtime support for the Personhood abortion bans, but now viewed in light of the Hobby Lobby ruling, Gardner has called for birth control now available only by prescription to be purchasable over-the-counter. But as Udall notes, that's not a good deal for women compared to what they can get now–and still will, even after Hobby Lobby, from the majority of employers who will choose not to impose their religious views on their employees:

Democratic Sen Mark Udall is skeptical of his challenger's proposal to make birth control pills available over the counter, without a prescription.

Udall on Friday said paying retail prices for the pill could actually increase the cost of contraception. Currently, the Affordable Care Act requires insurance companies to provide cost-free birth control to women. [Pols emphasis]

We assume Gardner doesn't consider cost-free birth control to be a priority, since he wants to repeal the law that makes it possible. But the reason the Affordable Care Act provided for cost-free birth control as guaranteed coverage was to ensure it is available to everyone–even to cash-strapped families who might otherwise make the choice to go without one month to make ends meet. In family planning terms, that can be a very costly choice.

Since neither Gardner's proposal nor Udall's legislation are going anywhere before this year's elections, the choice on display here is for the women of Colorado to decide this November. And despite Gardner's work to, in the words of one Republican consultant, "muddy it up enough to take it away from Udall," there remains a very distinct choice on this issue.

22 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. DavieDavie says:

    Cory Gardner doesn't about the social and economic costs of unplanned pregnancies.

    His solutions?

    Pregnant?  You're gonna have that baby!  No abortion facilities for you!

    Sexually active?  Play at your own risk.  No family planning help for you!

    Can't afford to risk getting pregnant?  Don't have sex!  There's a reason we only teach abstinence in "sex ed" class!


  2. BlueCatBlueCat says:

    Gardner only has two children. Either he and spouse are using some pretty reliable birth control o rthey don't have much sex. I can understand the latter. Guy sure gives me the creeps.

  3. NoelleGreen says:

    If Udall believes that campaigning on birth control is all he needs to do in order to keep the women's vote, he will be surprised this fall with a huge defeat. Women aren't losing sleep over whether or not Hobby Lobby employees have to pay for their birth control. (Yes, it was bad law). We are losing sleep over the corporate take over of K-12 education and the price of college. I'm a Progressive and all my friends are as well. We (plus husbands) are ready to vote for whoever is willing to take the time to listen and learn about what is happening in our schools. It's a travesty. 

    • Diogenesdemar says:

      Ummmm . . . do you know anyone that thinks they've got an ice cube's chance in hell of getting Gardner's ear . . . on anything?

    • Charlie3637 says:

      Udall is trying to lower the cost of student debt.The Republicans are obstructing all efforts to pass any legislation to help families.

       Read the information below.


      What information do you have that shows Congressman Gardner is trying to help lower the cost of education?  I am curious if he has actually tried to help students with college debt.


    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      Noelle, if you really are a progressive surely you don't think Gardner or any Republican is going to fight to protect public education from privatization and corporate takeover or lift a finger to lower the cost of college. You must know those are issues where our allies are Dems. And you might be interested to know that plenty of women do care about Hobby Lobby and all choice related issues very much.

      That's why personhood loses by such hug margins here whenever it comes up. It's definitely an issue that helps get Dem leaning voters  to the polls. And Udall no doubt doesn't plan to run ads only on that subject. He's strong on many issues important to progressive, minority and women voters. There's lots of time for more ads on various issues between now and the shank of the election season. And lots of Gardner crazy to be spotlighted in ads paid for by outside groups.

    • Cogito says:

      Noelle, while education is indeed an important issue to many voters of both genders, just what role do you expect a federal legislator to have on either of the two concerns you raise? I am not sure what you mean by "corporate take over" but control over most areas of k-12 education still rests locally or statewide, not with Congress. 

      And the price of college is also determined by the institution or state that owns the institution.  The federal government does play a role in financing college, but aside from Pell grants that really means loans, and loans only increase the price of college by adding interest to the cost.  So, again, what solutions would you like to see from someone campaigning for federal office?

  4. Charlie3637 says:

    The OTC concept suggested by CG is a simplistic, blatant political attempt to blur the issue. Some women would find OTC a reasonable solution, however there would be no insurance co-pay available and the MONTHLY economic cost would add up for women. How much would OTC birth control cost? 12 monthly purchases over a year X $$$ =  economic cost for women. This is not like an OTC purchase that is made as needed. Birth control pills are a monthly expense. 

    Many women also need a more complex solution for their reproductive health and this is where the HL case really has serious consequences.  The IUD can be used a means of helping women through menopause; it is a also a one time expense for women looking for simplicity with their birth control and there is no need to remember to take a daily pill. The HL decision gives corporations the ability to refuse all women any reproductive health insurance help they might need. A woman is told by her OB-GYN doctor that she either needs a hysterectomy or an IUD to stop massive menstrual bleeding to control life threatening anemia in her early 50's.  What will HL do for their employees in this case? I can't imagine the nightmare those employees would go through trying to get proper health care.

    Also, I wonder at one point the "corporations are people" concept allows pharmacies to deny OTC birth control in their facilities?  Hmmm….not quite so simple is it?

    Blue Cat: FYI – it was reported that Cong Gardner and his wife are expecting a third child in Jan.



    • notaskinnycooknotaskinnycook says:

      The very idea of making contraceptive pills non-prescription scares the life out of me. And does he mean truly "over-the-counter" like Pseudophed or "off-the-shelf" like Tylenol? (This is one of my pet peeves with American Engish. In most other countries ALL medications are over-the-counter. You have to ask the druggist for asprin.) There are dozens of brands of pills. Whch one works for a given patient? It depends on body chemistry, famly history, health history and a list of other factors.The wrong pill can be deadly. His soluton is literally fatally flawed.  

  5. mamajama55mamajama55 says:

    The state Dems recently hired a polling company to do a focus group, the results of which were reported to me as, "Voters don't care about social issues – it's only jobs, safety, maybe schools."

    Yes, but…..access to contraception determines whether we can keep the jobs we have. Anyone who's tried to figure out how to pay childcare for a baby while keeping a full time job knows that it can cost $600-1500 a month for chldcare – well beyond the reach of a minimum wage earner. (e.g., Hobby Lobby sales associate)

    The decision to NOT have a child is most often an economic one. I think Udall gets that. The evidence is that Gardner does not, and I think pragmatic voters will see that.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      I'd be wary of any such focus group polling for several reasons.  People often say things, such as that they hate negative ad campaigns, yet negative ad campaigns often work just fine. For decades we've been hearing about how it's all about jobs while both elected officials and the general public do seem to be most energized by abortion, gays, guns and God. People claim to put a high priority on schools but don't want to pay taxes or the kind of salaries that would attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession. Likewise both elected officials and ordinary voters claim they strongly support the troops but nobody wants to pay for the best care for our vets. 

      I think polls on who you're going to vote for are less influenced by what people think they ought to say than polls on what's important to you.  Especially on economic issues where we see voters vote against their own economic interests in order to support or oppose conservative social issue policy all the time.

      • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

        Right on, Bluecat. 1.  Issues are much more interdependent and complex than a poll or focus group can show.  2. What people tell a focus group is not necessarily how they will vote. Pueblo voters, in particular, are complicated, contrary, and unpredictable.

        Plus, the guys that presented these great focus group results seem to have few contacts with folks outside the Dem Party In crowd.

  6. Conserv. Head Banger says:

    I understand the cost issue to women for contraception being available over-the-counter. But, there is are some apparent advantages to it being available OTC. It gets the pharmacists, who think that filling such prescriptions violates their personal medical beliefs, out of the game. It also gets the religious right jihadists out of the game; what will they do, picket every Walgreens and other outlets that choose to sell contraception OTC? 

    • mamajama55mamajama55 says:

      Free is cheaper than OTC. I'm past worrying about contraception personally, but for my daughters, nieces, students, it's a real-life concern. I'm in favor of the "Plan B" being available over the counter (but via a pharmacist), as well as "off the shelf" sponges and condoms.

      Still, most forms of contraception are better prescribed via a doctor at least, for all the reasons Cook posted.

      As Pols posted, this is mostly an attempt by Gardner to muddy and confuse voters, rather than any real movement or change in his "personhood" position.

    • BlueCatBlueCat says:

      OTC isn't a good option when, as with most prescription drugs, there are health risks that make regular monitoring necessary.  Also, the cost of birth control pills is quite high and a very large chunk of women who take them do so as a treatment for medical conditions, not for birth control. Why shouldn't they have access to coverage for a perfectly legal treatment prescribed by their doctor? 

      Then there is is the essential unfairness of men having access to full coverage for drugs like Viagra so that they can take them much more safely and with no extra financial burden under a doctor's care. They also have access to fully covered vasectomies. So men have coverage both for facilitating sex and for birth control without moral judgements from employers like Hobby Lobby throwing up roadblocks. Only women are subject to either requiring an employer's moral approval for their sexual and reproductive choices or paying a high price for the same choices open to men by the very same companies at no extra expense for the men. I think you'll find a majrity of women saying no thanks to that particular "compromise".


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