U.S. House passes bill guaranteeing access to contraception, with eight GOP votes

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WASHINGTON — The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday voted mostly cross-party to send legislation to the Senate that would guarantee people the right to use contraception without government interference.

North Carolina Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning’s legislation, approved 228-195, is part of Democrats’ response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision that struck down the Constitutional right to abortion.

Eight Republicans voted to approve the bill. Nevada’s Mark Amodie was not one of them.

Thomas’ review

In the weeks following the Supreme Court’s decision on abortion, lawmakers repeatedly highlighted Associate Justice Clarence Thomas’ opinion in the case, where he called on his colleagues to “reconsider all precedents of merits of due process of this Court” which are based on the same legal logic that protects the right to abortion.

This process, wrote Thomas, should include Griswold v. Connecticut, Obergefell v. Hodges and Lawrence v. Texas. These cases allowed people to determine if and when to use birth control, legalized same-sex marriages, and stopped the government from criminalizing private consensual sex between adults.

The House debate on the birth control access bill on Thursday went side-by-side, with Democrats saying there is a need to ensure Americans don’t lose another constitutional right at their hands. conservative Supreme Court justices and Republicans saying the measure should have gone through a committee and is written too broadly.

“Let’s be clear, this bill is about giving women the freedom to choose the birth control that’s best for them, so they can avoid unwanted pregnancies,” Manning said.

“American women, indeed all Americans, deserve the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies, their family planning, and their lives,” she continued.

Republican Representative from Washington. Cathy McMorris Rodgers argued that the Democrats’ bill was “poorly drafted” and criticized them for including a definition of contraceptives that would include prescriptions and products approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but a definition of contraception that is not necessarily strictly limited to FDA licensed products. .

The Democrats’ bill defines contraception as “any action taken to prevent pregnancy, including the use of contraceptives or methods based on fertility awareness, and sterilization procedures.”

“Women deserve the truth, not more fear and misinformation that imposes an extreme agenda on the American people,” McMorris Rodgers said.

18 and over

House Republicans have tried to use a procedural approach to introduce legislation they support that would preserve access to birth control pills for people 18 and older.

Iowa Republican Rep. Ashley Hinson proposed the bill through the motion to reinitiate the procedural floor process. It was defeated 190-234, with 15 Republicans voting against.

The legislation, she said, would require the U.S. Food and Drug Administration “to grant priority review of over-the-counter access to common-use oral contraceptives that the agency has already determined to be safe for women aged 18 and over”.

“Women should have easy access to their preferred method of birth control,” Hinson said.

“Unfortunately, that’s not the reality for a lot of women,” she continued. “In rural Iowa, some women have to drive an hour to see a gynecologist, which means taking the day off, finding extra babysitting, spending hours in a car, paying high prices gasoline to get there.”

The measure would not enshrine access to other forms of birth control, such as IUDs or forms of birth control not taken by mouth. It also wouldn’t cover emergency contraception, often referred to as Plan B.

Representatives Andy Biggs of Arizona, Lauren Boebert of Colorado, Ken Buck of Colorado, Ben Cline of Virginia, Gonzalez of Ohio, Andy Harris of Maryland, Vicky Hartzler of Missouri, Matthew Rosendale of Montana and Christopher Smith of New Jersey were among the Republicans. vote against the motion.

Democrats’ contraceptive access bill would prevent a state or local government from interfering with a person’s ability to obtain contraceptives or engage in contraception as well as the ability to a health care provider to provide contraceptives, birth control, or information.

Contraceptives protected would include oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal barrier methods, transdermal patches and vaginal rings, or other contraceptives.

The bill would allow the Attorney General, an individual or a health care provider to bring a civil suit against any government or person who breaks the law.

The bill also makes several statements about birth control, including that Congress believes “the right to make personal decisions about contraceptive use is important to all Americans, and is especially critical for historically marginalized groups.” , including Black, Indigenous and other people of color; immigrants; LGBTQ people; People with Disabilities; low-income people; and people living in rural and underserved areas.

“Many people who are part of these marginalized groups already face barriers – exacerbated by social, political, economic and environmental inequalities – to comprehensive health care, including reproductive health care, that reduce their ability to make decisions about their health, family and health. lives,” the bill says.

Democratic Strategy

The House vote on the birth control access bill on Thursday is part of Democrats’ strategy to prevent Americans from losing any other constitutional rights recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court under the Clause 14th Amendment Due Process.

The House voted earlier this week to ensure same-sex and interracial marriages will continue if conservative justices overturn the cases that enshrined those rights — Obergefell v Hodges in 2015 and Loving v Virginia in 1967.

Debate on this bill has been partisan, although 47 House Republicans voted to send the measure to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said Wednesday he had tasked Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin with getting enough Republicans to approve the bill in this chamber.

“I want to bring this bill to the floor and we are working to get the Senate Republican support needed to make sure it gets through,” Schumer said.

Funding for family planning

Senate Democrats tried to pass a bill Thursday afternoon that would have expanded the federal family planning subsidy program known as Title X.

The bill, sponsored by Minnesota Democratic Senator Tina Smith and supported by 37 co-sponsors, would increase funding for the grant program to $500 million per year for the next decade and provide $50 million per year for the improving the infrastructure of family planning clinics.

The measure would change the classification of family planning grants from discretionary, where the amount of grant funding must be approved annually by Congress through its appropriations process, to mandatory, which is not subject to that system. .

The legislation states that patients at Title X clinics who receive a positive pregnancy test “shall be given the opportunity to receive information and counseling regarding” prenatal care and childbirth; infant care, foster care and adoption; and termination of pregnancy.

Any patient who requests information about any of the three options “should receive neutral, factual information and non-directive advice”, according to the bill.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray sought unanimous consent to send the bill to the House, but Republican Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst opposed it.

“Let’s be clear, the bill Republicans blocked today does not fund abortion,” Murray said. “The truth is Title X only provides services like birth control, STI testing, cancer screening. Services that Republicans claim to support.

Murray said the measure offered “nothing radical or revolutionary”.

“We’re just saying we should expand the national family planning program,” she said.

Ernst called the bill “a wolf in sheep’s clothing”.

Federal grants for family planning, Ernst argued, should not go to clinics or health care providers who also offer abortions.

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