NYCLU Says Loophole in Women's Health Bill Allows Denial of Service on Religious Grounds

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
January 24, 2001 12:00 am

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Wednesday, January 24, 2001

NEW YORK–The New York Civil Liberties Union today called for elimination of a “gaping loophole” in State Senator Joseph Bruno’s “Women’s Health and Wellness” bill that allows employers, insurers and hospitals to deny coverage for contraceptives and other kinds of obstetric and gynecologic care on religious grounds.

“Women’s health should not be held hostage to the religious beliefs of their employers or health insurance executives,” said Donna Lieberman, the Interim Executive Director of the NYCLU. “Insurance companies and hospitals are pervasively secular institutions whose mission is to provide health care, not promote religion.”

Contrary to Senator Bruno’s claims, the NYCLU said, under the new measure — which passed yesterday — women will still be saddled with the high costs of out-of-pocket contraceptive and reproductive health care. By contrast, a women’s health bill passed in the State Assembly last year fully protects women.

“This gaping loophole exempts hundreds or even thousands of employers, insurers and hospitals from adhering to the provisions of the women’s health bill,” Lieberman said. “Neither their patients nor their employees are chosen based on their religion. There is no legitimate reason to exempt them from providing full and fair health coverage to women.”

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