“They’re coming for contraception”: 195 Republicans vote against right to birth control, condoms

All but eight House Republicans voted against a bill to codify the right to contraception federally amid concerns that the Supreme Court could overturn a decades-old ruling prohibiting states from banning contraceptives.

The House voted 228 to 195 to pass the Right to Contraception Act, which would make it a federal right for Americans to obtain and use birth control pills, condoms, IUDs and other contraceptives. The legislation would also codify health care providers’ rights to provide contraceptives and allow the Justice Department to take those that infringe the right to court.

Only eight Republicans voted in favor of the bill: Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.; Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill.; Nancy Mace, R-S.C.; Fred Upton, R-Mich.; Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Pa.; Anthony Gonzalez, R-Ohio; John Katko, R-N.Y.; and Maria Salazar, R-Fla. Reps. Bob Gibbs, R-Ohio, and Mike Kelly, R-Pa., both voted “present.”

Republicans spread misinformation about the bill and contraceptives in general, accusing Democrats of seeking “more abortions” with the bill even though contraceptives prevent unwanted pregnancies. Republicans also denied that the right to contraceptives is at risk even though Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in an opinion backing the court’s reversal of abortion rights urged the court to “correct” other earlier decisions, including the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut ruling that barred states from banning contraceptives.

“Democrats are spreading fear and misinformation to score political points,” Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., claimed on the House floor, calling the bill a “Trojan horse for more abortions.”

The bill specifically defined contraceptives 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.”

Democrats have warned since the Supreme Court’s abortion decision that “they’re coming for the right to contraception” next. House Democrats voted in the past week to codify the federal right to abortion, same-sex marriage and contraceptives over concerns that they would be challenged in court, though none of the bills appear likely to get enough Republican votes in the Senate.

“This extremism is about one thing: control of women. We will not let this happen,” said Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., who sponsored the contraception bill.

Democrats accused Republicans of waging a war on women.

“Women of America — this is the Republican Party,” tweeted Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas. “They’ve shown us that they believe women do not have a right to determine our own future or have control over our bodies. They want us to be 2nd class citizens. When they show you who they are, believe them.”

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Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., the No. 3 Democrat in the House, called it a “Republican assault on women’s rights.”

“This extremist party must be stopped, and we must fight to repair the damage they’ve already done,” he wrote.

“Make no mistake,” warned House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., “Republicans & the far-right majority on the Supreme Court will take every opportunity to undermine — or overturn — the right to access birth control.”

Polls have repeatedly shown that a bipartisan majority of Americans overwhelmingly supports access to birth control. A recent FiveThirtyEight poll found that 90% of Americans believe condoms and birth control pills should be legal in “all” or “most” cases and 81% said the same of IUDs. More than 70% support access to emergency contraception like Plan B pills.

The polls highlight a potential backlash to the Republicans’ assault on women’s health care access. Polls have already shown the GOP losing ground ahead of the midterm elections after the Supreme Court’s abortion ruling, which was opposed by a vast majority of voters.

“These people are every bit as bonkers and extreme as they seem,” warned Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, “and they seem to be racing as fast as they can into the middle of the last century.”

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