Friday, 12 Aug 2022

US lawmakers pass bill codifying right to contraception after Roe v Wade flipped

US lawmakers have passed a bill enshrining the right to contraceptives, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade and the constitutional right to abortion.

The bill specifically protects ‘any device or medication used to prevent pregnancy’. A list of protected examples included oral contraceptives, injections, implants like intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives.

House Democrats and eight Republicans passed the bill on a 228-195 vote on Thursday, sending the legislation to the Senate.

‘This extremism is about one thing: control of women. We will not let this happen,’ said the bill’s sponsor Rep Kathy Manning. ‘Women and girls across this country are watching you, and they want to know: Are you willing to stand up for them?’

House Republicans who opposed the bill said that the measures to went too far, and worried that increasing funding for contraceptives would lead to an increase in abortions.

‘Women deserve the truth, not more fear and misinformation that forces an extreme agenda on the American people,’ said Rep Cathy McMorris-Rodgers.

The eight Republicans who joined the Democrats included Reps Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Brian Fitzpatrick.

South Carolina Republican Rep Nancy Mace said she supported the bill due to her state’s current efforts to ban all abortions with no exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

‘You can’t ban abortion and then not protect women’s access to contraceptives,’ she said on Twitter.

The bill still faces tough odds in the Senate. Democrats need to convince 10 Republicans to vote for the measure in order to bypass the filibuster.

Senator Susan Collins said she would ‘most likely’ vote for the bill. Senator Lisa Murkowski also expressed support for enshrining the right to contraceptives into law, but also mentioned that she was working on bipartisan legislation on the issue.

The right to contraception is currently protected by the Supreme Court decision in Griswold v Connecticut in 1965. The decision, which was based upon the right to privacy, has recently been seen as under threat after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade, a decision based on the same concept.

In a concurring opinion with the decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, conservative Justice Clarence Thomas specifically stated that the court should reconsider the decision in Griswold, as well as other cases based upon the right to privacy. That includes the legalization of same sex marriage enshrined in the 2015 Obergefell v Hodges decision.

Since the Dobbs decision, House Democrats have begun advancing a flurry of legislation intending to protect some of these rights previously based on the right to privacy.

Last Friday, the House revived a law that would legalize abortion on a national level. Every Republican voted against the bill.

The House also voted on Tuesday to codify same-sex marriage into law, which saw 47 Republicans joining their Democratic colleagues in voting for the measure – far more than originally expected.

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