With many lawmakers expressing disbelief that a law codifying the right to use birth control is needed in the U.S. in 2022, House Democrats passed the Right to Contraception Act on Thursday—joined by just eight Republicans as the party denied access to contraception is under attack.
All 220 Democrats voted in favor of the bill.
“One hundred ninety-five House Republicans just voted against protecting your right to access contraception,” said Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.).
The legislation defines contraception as “any drug, device, or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy, whether specifically intended to prevent pregnancy or for other health needs, that is legally marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, such as oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal barrier methods, transdermal patches, and vaginal rings, or other contraceptives.”
Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.) introduced the bill weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s right-wing majority overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the right to abortion care for millions of women and likely reducing access to abortions even in states where the right is still protected.
In an opinion concurring with the ruling, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that “in future cases, we should reconsider all of the Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” naming cases that affirmed Americans have the right to contraception, same-sex relationships, and marriage equality.
Thursday’s vote showed that opposition to contraceptive rights “is not just an opinion of one man,” said Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.). “This is their plan.”
“If they had the chance they would ban” contraception, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) added.
Earlier this week, the House passed a bill codifying the right of same-sex couples to marry, with the vast majority of Republicans voting against it.
After the ruling overturning Roe was handed down, a health system in Missouri—where abortion is now banned—temporarily stopped providing emergency contraception, better known as Plan B, saying the state needed to “better define” its abortion ban.
Republicans in Missouri have also tried to stop Medicaid funding from being used for contraception.
GOP legislators on Thursday, however, claimed the right to access contraception is not being threatened, with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) accusing the Democrats of “spreading fear and misinformation” and calling the bill “a Trojan horse for more abortions.”
After the House bill passed, advocates called on the Senate to promptly pass the Right to Contraception Act, which was introduced by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) this week.
Republicans in the Senate have also denied people are at risk of losing their right to use contraception, with Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) calling the Democrats’ efforts “pure hysteria.”
“Birth control is a basic form of healthcare we ALL deserve to access,” said the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights after the House bill was passed. “Senate must follow.”