A resolution sponsored by Senators Joe Vitale and Barbara Buono praising President Barack Obama’s efforts to protect both women’s health and the liberty of religious employers was approved today by the New Jersey State Senate.  

The President announced on February 10, 2012 a compromise that would ensure the health of women who work for religious employers that object to providing contraceptive as part of their health plan by requiring instead that their insurers directly offer the coverage free of charge.  

Vitale says, “By including contraception with other preventive measures covered free of charge to Americans, the health of women and their children will be greatly improved. The president’s proposal to require health insurers rather than religious employers to cover the costs of contraception is to be lauded as it provides free preventive care that does not discriminate against women while preserving religious liberty.”

In New Jersey, health insurance companies who provide coverage for prescription drugs are already required to cover female contraception. In a 2006 compromise with New Jersey’s religious communities authored by Vitale, religious institutions that have primary ownership of a church or grade school and have bona fide religious objections were exempt from this law. This exemption does not include businesses, hospitals, colleges or charities – regardless of religious affiliation.

“Women’s health is not a special interest, and this resolution applauds the president for calling it what it is: equal rights for citizens, rights to access medical care – whether for reproductive issues or otherwise – that knows no race, color, creed, or gender,” says Buono. “With this bill we send a message that New Jersey respects the judgment of American women; we believe in access to family planning services; we believe in a woman’s right to birth control. This is what we believe. We cannot be complacent. We must take our stand here in New Jersey.”