July 21, 2022

Duckworth, Markey, Hirono Introduce Bill to Codify The Right To Contraception

Right to Contraception Act would defend decades-long precedent, ensure access to contraceptives as rogue Supreme Court entertains rolling back fundamental rights in the wake of Dobbs decision


[WASHINGTON, D.C.]—U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Mazie Hirono (D-HI) today introduced, with the backing of over half of the Senate Democratic caucus, the Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would codify the fundamental and constitutional right to contraception, which the Supreme Court first recognized more than half a century ago in its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. The introduction follows Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—overturning Roe v. Wade—in which he urged the Court to reconsider its 1965 Griswold decision. Several states have already restricted access to contraception by cutting off public funding for it, defining abortion broadly enough to include contraception and allowing health care providers to refuse to provide services related to contraception based on their own personal beliefs.

“I refuse to let my daughters grow up in a world with fewer rights than I had. As Republicans continue their march toward a nationwide abortion ban, I will do everything in my power to ensure that Illinois remains a safe haven for all women seeking reproductive care,” said Senator Duckworth. “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 has equal access to basic, necessary healthcare—regardless of their skin color, zip code or income—and I’m proud to join Senators Markey and Hirono in this effort.”

“A stolen Supreme Court majority has stolen the right to abortion care, and they are just getting started,” said Senator Markey. “We cannot sit by and wait as far-right justices on the bench undo decades of precedent and progress. We have an urgent obligation to codify the right to contraception and prevent this far-right Court from committing another grave judicial act of injustice. The right to contraception is a fundamental right that is central to an individual’s privacy, health, wellbeing, and ability to participate in the social and economic life of our nation.” 

“For this far-right results-oriented Supreme Court and MAGA Republicans, controlling women’s bodies doesn’t just stop at forcing women to give birth, they actually want to ban contraception,” said Senator Hirono. “Everyone in this country needs to realize that nothing is off the table for MAGA Republican controlled state governments and this Court—and we need to act now to protect the right to contraception. We need to put every single Republican on the record on whether they support the right to contraception, or whether they will allow states and this Court to stop millions and millions of women from making decisions about their own health care.”

A copy of the legislation can be found here.

The Right to Contraception Act would uphold access to contraception by:

  • Creating a statutory right for individuals to obtain contraceptives and to engage in contraception;
  • Establishing a corresponding right for health care providers to provide contraceptives, contraception and information related to contraception;
  •  Allowing the Department of Justice, as well as providers and individuals harmed by restrictions on contraception access made unlawful under the legislation, to go to court to enforce these rights; and
  •  Protecting a range of contraceptive methods, devices and medications used to prevent pregnancy, including but not limited to oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal barrier methods, transdermal patches, vaginal rings, fertility-awareness based methods and sterilization procedures.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

On July 14, Congresswoman Kathy Manning (D-NC-06), joined by Congresswomen Nikema Williams (D-GA-05), Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) and Angie Craig (D-MN-02), introduced the companion bill in the House of Representatives, the Right to Contraception Act (H.R. 8373). The House will be taking it for a vote this Thursday. The White House issued a statement of support for the Right to Contraception Act on Monday.

The Right to Contraception Act is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, National Organization for Women, Power to Decide, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Reproductive Health Access Project, Catholics for Choice, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Upstream USA, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Partnership for Women & Families, Jewish Women International, Positive Women’s Network-USA and the National Council of Jewish Women.