Reproductive Rights
UNITED STATES - MAY 14: Demonstrators are seen on Constitution Avenue during a march for abortion ri...

Cool Cool Cool, Nearly 200 Republicans Just Voted Against Contraception Access

There’s nothing worrisome about that!

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc./Getty Images

In the devastating wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which ended nearly half a century of constitutionally protected abortion rights, Democrats in Congress have been working to codify other reproductive freedoms within the nation’s federal legislative network. Recently, they experienced a small step toward success: On July 21, the House passed legislation that would protect access to birth control. However, that success was overshadowed by stringent partisan politics, as nearly 200 House Republicans voted against protecting contraception access — which, considering how abortion is no longer a constitutionally protected right, is very concerning.

The legislation, titled “The Right to Contraception Act,” would establish the federally protected right to “a person’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception.” It would also protect a health care provider’s right to prescribe and supply contraceptives, and permit the Justice Department (as well as other groups harmed by restrictions on contraception) to seek legal support against any state that violates the act. In the 228-195 majority vote, only eight Republicans voted along with Democrats to support the act: Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming, John Katko of New York, Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Fred Upton of Michigan, Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania, Maria Salazar of Florida, and Anthony Gonzalez of Ohio.

This lack of bipartisan support on what seems like basic reproductive freedoms is especially concerning, considering how contraceptive access may already be on shaky ground. In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, the case which overturned Roe, Justice Clarence Thomas suggested that the court should also reconsider a number of other cases, including those that established contraceptive rights, decriminalized same-sex relationships, and ensured marriage equality — should be reconsidered in the future. “We have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” Thomas wrote. And in the weeks since the decision, reports are already arising of pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and medication abortions, as well as physicians refraining from prescribing medications that could be considered abortifacients.

Congressional Democrats have been critical over this rightward shift within the nation’s reproductive rights landscape, spearheaded by Republican lawmakers. “This rallying call by Justice Thomas and the actions of extremist Republican legislators are about one thing: Control,” Rep. Kathy Manning, the North Carolina Democrat who sponsored the Right to Contraception Act, said during a July 20 conference. “These extremists are working to take away the rights of women, to take away our right to decide when to have children, to take away our right to control our own lives and our own bodies, and we will not let this happen.”

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has stated that he intends to bring the Right to Contraception Act to the Senate floor, per CBS News, where it will face an uphill battle with gaining Republican support.