Fearing future action by the Supreme Court’s conservative majority, the Democrat-led House of Representatives Thursday passed the Right to Contraception Act, which would codify earlier high court rulings guaranteeing Americans access to birth control and family planning.
The vote was 228-195. Eight Republicans joined all Democrats in supporting the bill. All five Oklahoma House members voted against it.
The bill, spurred by June’s Supreme Court ruling overturning federally guaranteed access to abortion, would establish a right in federal law for individuals to obtain and use contraceptives. It would also affirm a right for health care providers to provide contraceptives and allow the Justice Department and entities claiming to be harmed by contraception restrictions to seek enforcement of the right in court.
During floor debate on the measure, supporters said the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision was a “wake-up call” and they could not simply ignore the fact that one of the concurring justices openly encouraged a similar review of other cases, including Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that first established a right to contraception for married couples
“Griswold. 1965. The right to contraception,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) at her weekly news conference Thursday morning. “Decades ago. Now they want to turn back the clock and Democratic women in Congress are saying we’re not turning back, and we hope that we will be joined by Republican colleagues in (supporting) this legislation today.”
But many Republicans, including Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma’s fifth Congressional district), refused to support the bill because of how Democrats define 'contraceptive' in the bill.
"This problematic legislation reinforces the left’s pro-abortion agenda, by utilizing an overly broad definition of contraception that includes pregnancy terminating abortion drugs," said Rep. Bice at the conclusion of debate. "My colleagues on the other side of the aisle would incorrectly have the American people believe that Republicans don’t care about women’s access to contraception. This is false."
To prove the point, Bice announced she had introduced her own bill.
"My legislation would safeguard access to contraception for Americans, including my two daughters," Rep. Bice stated, "and importantly does not protect the use of pregnancy-ending medications, such as chemical abortion pills."
Other Republican opponents of the Democrats' bill say it is more a case of Democrats trying to distract Americans from the issues that truly matter right now, like inflation, than any realistic chance that contraceptives could be made inaccessible.
“That’s extreme,” said Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK2) in an interview Thursday. “I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
Just the same, Mullin believes the federal government should not be setting the rules for contraception, states should.
“So, we’re just saying once again let’s push this whole thing back to the state, allow the states to make these decisions for themselves,” Mullin stated.