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Photo of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi - D speaks during an event ahead of the passage of H.R. 8373, the Right to Contraception Act, at the US Capitol in Washington, D.C
US House of Representatives act swiftly to codify rights that could face SCOTUS scrutiny. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images.

U.S. House of Representatives marshal to secure contraceptive access

It is the latest federal push to codify rights that could be overturned in the Supreme Court.

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On July 21, the House passed legislation that provides both access to contraceptives, and a healthcare provider’s ability to prescribe said medications. In a 228-194 vote, the bill will now make its way onto the Senate floor.

Only eight Republican members of the House voted in favor of the bill’s safe passage. 

The bill was introduced by Democratic Representative Kathy Manning as an explicit response to the Supreme Court Ruling in Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters

SCOTUS ruled in June that abortion would no longer be a federally protected right, empowering Republican states to enact trigger laws that severely restrict access to abortions. 

However, no state legislature has enacted successful measures to criminalize contraceptives, although, according to the Guttmacher Institute, 12 states are allowed to refuse them. 

In his majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote that all substantive due process procedures should be “reconsidered,” including Griswald v. Connecticut, the ruling that secured the right for married couples to use contraceptives. 

Democrats push back

In an effort to combat more extreme right-wing legislation, the House has responded with bills to enshrine other cases which may soon be on the chopping block. On July 19, the House passed a bill that would enshrine same-sex marriage under the law. 

Though it remains unclear if these bills will garner enough support in an evenly divided Senate, Democrats in Washington are mobilizing as the judicial branch puts into question the legitimacy of these protections. 

“We will not play defense anymore; this time we’re playing offense,” Manning said on the House floor.

Too little too late?

Through executive order, President Joe Biden declared safe access to contraception, but many are left wondering if the Democratic stance on highly-controversial issues comes as a last-minute resort.

Additionally, in many states such as Pennsylvania, Roe will become an issue on the ballot, disallowing legislative representatives from taking actionable steps to protect these rights under the law. 

It is likely that voter turnout will be imperative to safeguard access to abortion and contraceptives, in what is otherwise a battleground of new Republican legislation.

Should contraceptives be outlawed, the data suggests that 88% of women who are sexually active will be affected, according to the Guttmacher Institute. 

With representatives at both the state and federal levels acting swiftly, they send a clear message to constituents in the role they play to ensure their rights are protected.

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