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Dem bill makes it a crime not to provide full contraceptive coverage

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 10: Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) (2nd R) speaks during a news conference to announce they will fast-track new legislation to prevent for-profit employers from refusing to cover health benefits for religious reasons with (L-R) Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) at the U.S. Capitol July 10, 2014 in Washington, DC. Co-authored by Udall and Murray, the legislation would override the Supreme Court's recent decision in the Hobby Lobby case and compel for-profit business to cover contraception for their employees, as required by the Affordable Care Act. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Democrats in the House and Senate proposed legislation this week that could lead to criminal penalties — including jail time — for failing to provide a full range of contraceptive services for their employees.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) on Wednesday introduced the Protect Women's Health from Corporate Interference Act. The bill is a response to the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision, which said closely held companies cannot be forced to provide abortifacients to employees under Obamacare if doing so goes against their religious beliefs.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and other Democrats are proposing a bill that would impose criminal penalties for not providing full contraceptive coverage to workers. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Despite the relatively narrow ruling, Democrats roundly criticized that verdict as a broad assault against women's access to contraceptives. The Democratic bill would essentially force all companies to adhere to the contraceptive requirement as described both in the Obamacare law and related regulations.

It would also enforce this requirement through the threat of penalties on health plan sponsors, group health plans, and health insurance carriers.

The bill calls for possible penalties under three areas of U.S. law, including criminal penalties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

Specifically, it calls for penalties under a section of ERISA that calls for a fine of no more than $100,000 and a prison term of not more than 10 years for possible violations.

It also calls for much smaller penalties under the Public Health Service Act and the IRS Code, which call for penalties of $100 a day for each person affected by a violation.

Democratic supporters of the bill said it's needed to reverse a decision made by a narrow majority of the Supreme Court.

"After five justices decided last week that an employer’s personal views can interfere with women's access to essential health services, we in Congress need to act quickly to right this wrong," Murray said.

Read the text of the Democrats' legislative response to the Hobby Lobby case here:

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