Planned Parenthood Exec. Dir.: Women's health care caught in political fight

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The United States Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" ruling has started a battle over birth control.

Senate Democrats are working to make sure women have access to contraceptives no matter what. Senate Republicans have already rejected one new proposed law. A local mother, who's the Executive Director of Portland's Planned Parenthood, believes women's health care is now caught in the middle of a political fight.

Senators Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., are both backing the new "Access to Birth Control" act. The bill was introduced to United States Senate Democrats on Monday by freshman Senator Cory Booker, D-N.J. It would require pharmacists to fill women's prescriptions for birth control regardless of personal religious views.

It's a second response to the Supreme Court's "Hobby Lobby" decision announced earlier this month; for-profit companies don't have to provide health insurance coverage for contraceptives under a religious exemption.

Laura Terrill Patten, who runs Planned Parenthood in Portland, thinks lawmakers are playing politics with birth control, and that could eventually have consequences for people of any age.

"Nearly 500,000 women suffer from endometriosis; victims of rape may not have access to emergency contraception, women who use birth control to control their fertility. All of this is now in jeopardy, a very scary place to be in 2014," said Terrill Patten.

Terrill Patten also thinks denying women birth control based on religious beliefs could open doors to eventually denying other medical services, such as blood transfusions or vaccinations. Those are services that men and children might also need.

"I think the ACA (Affordable Care Act) was politicized to a level, to an extent that none of us anticipated. And I think that the Hobby Lobby decision is an extension of that political fight and unfortunately women are caught in the middle," explained Terrill Patton.

To Terrill Patton, the birth control battle isn't only about women's rights, it's about equality. She has a message for lawmakers.

"My body is not their political fodder. My daughters' bodies and the decisions that they make about them are not up for political debate," Terrill Patton said.

It's unclear when the Senate will vote on the "Access to Birth Control" act. This is the fifth time it's gone before lawmakers. Last week, Senate Republicans blocked another pro-birth control bill called the "Not my Bosses Business" act.

KATU News contacted Oregon Right to Life about this story. A spokeswoman declined to participate in an interview.