House passes bill to codify right to contraception after Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade

WASHINGTON — The right to use contraceptives would be enshrined in law under a measure Democrats pushed through the House of Representatives on Thursday, their latest campaign-season response to concerns from a conservative Supreme Court that already scrapped federal abortion rights could go further.

The House of Representatives’ 228-195 appeal broadly followed party lines and sent the measure to the Senate, where it seemed doomed to fail. The bill is the latest example of Democrats using their own version of culture wars to appeal to female voters, progressives and minorities, portraying the court and Republicans as extremists intent on erasing rights that have been taken for granted for years .

Democrats said judges and GOP lawmakers are on track to go further than just banning abortions after the Supreme Court recently overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade from 1973.

Note: The video in the player above is from a similar report.

“This extremism is about one thing: the control of women. We will not allow that to happen,” said Rep. Kathy Manning, DN.C., who has supported the legislation. All of the nearly 150 co-sponsors of the bill are Democrats. Addressing fellow MPs, she added, “Women and girls in this country are watching you and wanting to know: are you ready to stand up for them?”

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In his opinion on Roe’s fall last month, Judge Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should now review other precedents. He mentioned judgments upholding the rights of same-sex marriage in 2015, same-sex intimate relationships in 2003, and contraceptive use by married couples in 1965.

Thomas didn’t specify a 1972 decision that legalized contraceptive use by unmarried people, but Democrats say they see that as at risk, too.

Republicans said the bill went too far. They said it would lead to more abortions, which proponents dispute, allowing the use of drugs not yet fully approved by the Food and Drug Administration and forcing health care providers to offer contraceptives even if it contradicts their religious beliefs.

“Women deserve the truth, not more fear and misinformation pushing an extreme agenda on the American people,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

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All Democrats supported the bill, while Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it in 195-198. The House Democrats’ campaign committee was quick to jump on that inequality, with Speaker Helen Kalla saying her party will “fight to protect women’s freedoms from the GOP’s sinister agenda.”

The measure appeared destined to become a campaign issue, not law. Minutes after the House passed it, Republicans blocked the Senate’s quick approval of a similar bill. Support from at least 10 GOP senators would be required to reach 60 votes, the threshold needed for most legislation to pass in this chamber, which is split 50-50.

The Contraception Act specifically permits the use of contraceptives and gives the medical community the right to provide them, which “covers any device or medication used to prevent pregnancy.” Examples listed include oral contraceptives, injections, implants such as IUDs, and emergency contraceptives that prevent pregnancy for several days after unprotected intercourse.

The bill allows federal and state governments, patients and healthcare providers to bring civil actions against states or state officials who violate its provisions.

House Democrats have begun to force votes on several issues related to privacy rights in hopes of long-term victories or at least to motivate sympathetic voters and donors and force Republicans from competitive districts into sticky spots.

The House of Representatives last week voted to revive a statewide abortion right, with every Republican voting no, and voted broadly in line with party lines to ban prosecutions of women who travel to states where abortion remains legal. Neither is expected to survive in the Senate.

Still, the House of Representatives voted Tuesday to keep same-sex marriage legal, with 47 Republicans joining all Democrats in backing the measure. Though 157 Republicans voted no, that tally raised expectations that the bill might garner enough support for GOP senators to pass it and sent it to President Joe Biden for signature.

Almost all adults, 92%, described birth control as “moral” in a May Gallup poll. A PRRI poll in June found that about 8 in 10 oppose laws restricting what types of birth control can be used to prevent pregnancy.

Despite this, anti-abortion activists and Republican leaders oppose birth control legislation, and there has been no immediate indication that a significant number of GOP senators would be willing to oppose them. In contrast, same-sex marriage has such strong public acceptance and is such a clear-cut issue that a growing number of Republicans are willing to vote for it.

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America said the birth control laws “are designed to bail out the abortion industry, trample on conscience rights and demand unhindered access to dangerous chemical abortifacients.” The National Committee for the Right to Life said it goes “well beyond the scope of contraception” and would cover abortion pills like RU486, which proponents have said is wrong.

The measure drew mixed reactions from two of the more moderate Senate Republicans on Wednesday.

Senator Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she would “most likely” support the measure. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, disagreed, saying she is working on bipartisan legislation that she believes would codify abortion rights and perhaps contraception.

There are few state restrictions on contraceptive use, said Elizabeth Nash, who studies state reproductive health policies for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization that advocates for abortion rights.

Nash said she’s concerned there will be efforts to curb emergency contraception and IUDs, and to help providers and institutions refuse to offer contraceptive services.


Associated Press writers Farnoush Amiri and Hannah Fingerhut contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2022 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. House passes bill to codify right to contraception after Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade

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