House to vote on bill protecting access to contraceptives

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 to discuss the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act.
Greg Nash
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) addresses reporters during a press conference on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 to discuss the Lower Food and Fuel Costs Act.

The House will vote next week on a bill aimed at protecting access to contraceptives, a direct response to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas saying the court should reconsider the landmark decision in Griswold v. Connecticut.

Thomas — considered by some to be the most conservative justice on the court — wrote a concurring opinion to last month’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade that said the bench should “reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents,” listing Griswold, which safeguards a married couple’s right to use contraception, among other cases.

He argued that the due process clause in the Constitution does not protect substantive rights, infuriating Democrats across the country.

In a statement on Friday, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) targeted Thomas’s opinion and said the lower chamber will take action to defend Americans’ access to contraceptives.

“In his concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson, Justice Clarence Thomas made it very clear that the extremist ruling that ended Roe v. Wade could be used to overturn other precedents, and he specifically referenced the case that recognized Americans’ constitutional right to access contraception,” Hoyer said.

“The House will not sit back and allow extremist Republicans and their judicial appointees to limit Americans’ access to contraception, which is why I will bring H.R. 8373, the Right to Contraception Act, to the House Floor next week,” he added.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Kathy Manning (D-N.C.), allows people to obtain and use contraceptives, and protects healthcare providers’ ability to provide contraceptives and relevant information to patients.

The measure seeks to protect all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration, including oral and emergency contraceptives, intrauterine devices and condoms. 

It also authorizes the attorney general to take civil action against any state or official that implements a measure in violation of the law, and allows individuals to initiate civil action against any people or entities who enforces a restriction to the measure.

The Rules Committee is scheduled to take up the bill on Monday.

Hoyer announced the vote right before the House approved a pair of bills aimed at protecting access to abortion, exactly three months after the court overturned Roe.

The bills seek to codify the right to abortion on the federal level and protect women who travel to undergo the medical procedure because their state bans it.

The measures now head to the Senate, where they are likely to face headwinds because of Republican opposition.

Tags Birth control Clarence Thomas contraceptive access contraceptives Griswold v. Connecticut Roe v. Wade Steny Hoyer
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