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195 Republicans Just Voted Against Protecting Access To Contraception

Abortion rights activists protest outside the U.S. Supreme Court, holding a huge green banner reading "we won't back down"

The House passed a bill Thursday to codify access to contraception into federal law after the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson WHO opened the door to put that access at risk.

The bill gives federal protections to people seeking access to contraceptives as well as medical professionals providing them. It includes all forms of contraception, from condoms to sterilization methods to—very importantly—emergency contraception. The bill passed in the House 228–195, with the support of only eight Republicans.

Similarly, the House voted earlier this week on a bill to codify same-sex marriage into law, with 47 Republicans voting in favor of the act. While same-sex marriage is protected by the Constitution, we’ve just seen how easily these protections can be overturned, thanks to the current extremist court makeup. In fact, while Justice Samuel Alito wrote in his majority opinion for Dobbs that “nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion,” Clarence Thomas wrote a separate concurring opinion that basically said yes, it should. He specifically called out past cases guaranteeing a right to contraception and same-sex relationships as being open to “reconsider.”

So when, for example, Florida Republican Marco Rubio tries to justify his “no” vote on protecting same sex marriage because it’s a “stupid waste of time,” it very clearly is not.

As for the contraception bill, not only have we seen a recent rush of stories about providers refusing to fulfil contraception prescriptions and requests (either because of their religious objections or fear of legal retaliation), but the text of the bill calls out the existing state-wide attempts to restrict access to contraception.

“In 2021 alone, at least 4 States tried to ban access to some or all contraceptives by restricting access to public funding for these products and service,” it reads. “Also, State violations of the Medicaid free choice of provider requirement, thus far in Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, and Texas, have infringed on people’s ability to access their contraceptive care.”

Additionally, “Providers’ refusals to offer contraceptives and information related to contraception based on their own personal beliefs impede patients from obtaining their preferred method, with laws in 12 States as of the date of introduction of this Act specifically allowing health care providers to refuse to provide services related to contraception.”

This bill allows for people affected by contraception restrictions to bring civil suits against a state or government official that refuses to comply (but not, it seems, against a private company like, say, Walgreens) and also gives the Attorney General power to go after offending states.

Both bills will now go on to the Senate, where they’ll need at least 10 Republicans to be willing to state publicly that they don’t think contraception and same-sex marriage protections are, to put it less than eloquently, a stupid waste of time.

(image: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.