Duckworth Joins Markey, Hirono in Re-Introducing Legislation to Codify Right to Contraception, Safeguard 60 Years of Settled Precedent
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) in re-introducing the Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would codify and strengthen the right to contraception—which the Supreme Court first recognized more than half a century ago in its Griswold v. Connecticut decision. Enshrining the right to contraception into federal law would reverse efforts already made by Republicans in states across the country to restrict access to contraceptives and ensure that any future attempt by the far-right majority on the Supreme Court to overturn Griswold would not endanger access to this essential healthcare.
“The Supreme Court throwing out Roe v. Wade was so much more than a right-wing attack on the right to abortion—it was also an attack on every American’s right to access to birth control, plan B and other contraception in order to further control women’s bodies,” said Senator Duckworth. “I refuse to let my daughters grow up in a world with fewer rights than I had. It is as important as ever that the Senate acts to codify the right to contraception into law so that every American in every state—regardless of their skin color, zip code or income—has equal access to basic, necessary healthcare and I’m proud to join Senators Markey and Hirono in this effort to do just that.”
The lawmakers first introduced the legislation last July in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which overturned Roe v. Wade. In his concurring opinion, Justice Thomas urged the Court to “reconsider” its substantive due process precedents, including Griswold.
“The right to contraception is the right to essential health care, yet extremist judges and radical Republicans continue to threaten access for millions of Americans. We cannot stand by as extremists continue to undo decades of precedent and progress,” said Senator Markey. “Extremist Republicans need to get out of the waiting room and start representing what the vast majority of Americans want: to let health care providers and patients make decisions about what is best for themselves. Contraception access shouldn’t be controversial, and Congress must use this moment to demonstrate clearly that we will act to protect people’s health. I will continue to fight to guarantee the right to contraception into law so that not even the radical-right majority on the Supreme Court can strip it away.”
“Nearly a year after the Supreme Court’s devastating decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Republicans continue to obsess over controlling women’s bodies, further restricting reproductive health care and threatening access to contraception,” said Senator Hirono. “The right to contraception is a fundamental right, central to one’s privacy and well-being. I am proud to reintroduce this bill, which will help protect access to contraception and the ability of every individual to make decisions about their bodies and their futures.”
Although nine out of 10 American adults support access to all forms of birth control, several states restrict access to contraceptives by eliminating public funding for it, defining abortion broadly enough to include contraception and allowing healthcare providers to deny service related to contraception on the basis of their own beliefs. Attacks on healthcare, especially reproductive healthcare, fall hardest on Black, Brown, Indigenous and immigrant communities, as well as LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, low-income people and those living in rural and underserved areas.
A copy of the legislation can be found here.
Specifically, the Right to Contraception Act would uphold access to contraception by:
- Guaranteeing the legal right for individuals to get and use contraception and for health care providers to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information, referrals, and services related to contraception;
- Prohibiting the federal government or any state from administering, implementing, or enforcing any law, rule, regulation, standard or other provision that would prohibit or restrict the sale, provision, or use of contraception; and,
- Allowing the Department of Justice (DOJ), providers, and individuals harmed by restrictions on contraception access made unlawful under the legislation, to go to court to enforce these rights.
More than half of the Senate Democratic Caucus backs the Right to Contraception Act, including U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Carper (D-DE), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), John Fetterman (D-PA), Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
In the House, the bill is supported by 127 members.
The Right to Contraception Act is endorsed by Advocates for Youth, AIDS United, American Atheists, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Americans for Contraception, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Catholics for Choice, Center for American Progress, Center for Biological Diversity, CenterLink: The Community of LGBTQ Centers, Coalition to Expand Contraceptive Access, Contraceptive Access Initiative, Equality California, Girls Inc., Hadassah, House Pro-Choice Caucus, Ibis Reproductive Health, Interfaith Alliance, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, Minority Veterans of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women's Health, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Coalition of STD Directors, National Council of Jewish Women , National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Law Center, People For the American Way, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Power to Decide, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Reproductive Health Access Project, Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine, The Collaborative and Upstream USA.
Duckworth is a fierce advocate in protecting Americans’ right to access the reproductive healthcare they need. Recently, Duckworth joined more than 250 members of Congress in submitting an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, in support of the Biden Administration’s appeal of a federal district court ruling that suspends the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) more than 20-year-old approval of mifepristone as well as the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit—which does not revoke FDA approval of mifepristone in its entirety but does significantly restrict access to the drug nationwide and ultimately overrides FDA’s scientific judgment. Duckworth and also helped introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2023, federal legislation to guarantee access to abortion everywhere across the country and restore the right to comprehensive reproductive healthcare for millions of Americans.
Duckworth hosted Dr. Erin King of Illinois’s Hope Clinic as her 2023 State of the Union guest, as part of the Senator’s continuing efforts to defend Americans’ right to full, comprehensive reproductive healthcare—no matter their zip code, income, ability status or skin color. In 2021, she introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, as well as previously supported the Women’s Health Protection Act, which she vocally criticized Republicans for blocking. After she urged Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to proactively protect servicemembers’ abortion rights, the Department of Defense announced several new protections and services to ensure our female troops can access the healthcare they need. Duckworth also pushed back against Republican attacks against the Biden Administration’s efforts to protect female Veterans’ access to care.
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