July 26, 2022

Hirono, Colleagues Announce Effort to Pass the Right to Contraception Act, Defend Reproductive Rights from Far-Right Supreme Court Majority

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) announced their effort to pass the Right to Contraception Act this week in the Senate, following passage of companion legislation in the House of Representatives last week. Senator Hirono introduced the Right to Contraception Act last week with Senators Markey and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) to codify the right to contraception, which the Supreme Court first recognized more than half a century ago in its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. Codifying the constitutional right to obtain contraceptives would protect against efforts by Republican-led states to restrict contraception and ensure that an overturning of the Griswold decision by the far-right Supreme Court majority would not endanger access to contraceptives. The senators will move forward on Wednesday to pass the Right to Contraception Act through unanimous consent on the floor of the Senate.

“Overturning Roe has wreaked havoc across the country, and radical Republicans are just getting started,” said Senator Hirono in her remarks. “Everyone in this country needs to realize that nothing is off the table, and that’s why we must now protect the right to contraception. Our bill, the Right to Contraception Act, would create a statutory right for individuals to access contraception. This bill also protects the right of health care providers to provide contraceptives to their patients. It also empowers individuals by extending a private right of action against any state or government official that hinders these rights. We need to put every single Republican on the record on whether they support the right to contraception and, indeed, the right to bodily autonomy.”

In the wake of a disastrous Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion that sets the stage for further erosion of Americans’ right to make decisions about their reproductive health care, this legislation would safeguard Americans’ right to access and use contraception; guarantee medical providers’ ability to inform their patients of and disseminate a range of contraception options, including emergency contraceptives; and provide the Department of Justice and others the legal recourse to enforce this right as states across the nation rollback bedrock privacy protections.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Markey, and Duckworth, the Right to Contraception Act has been cosponsored 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).  

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.

The full text of Senator Hirono’s remarks is below and video is available here.

Overturning Roe has wreaked havoc across the country, and radical Republicans are just getting started. I’m proud to stand here with my colleagues.

For this far-right 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. In his concurring opinion to overturn Roe, Justice Thomas wrote, “The Supreme Court should next reconsider the rulings that protect access to contraception, same-sex relationships, and marriage equality.”

This is called signaling.

When a far-right Supreme Court Justice, now in the majority, signals—we have to pay attention. Justice Alito always said that the original Roe decision was wrongly decided back when it was decided. So the same time, radical Republicans in state legislatures across the country are gearing up. In Ohio, House Republicans introduced a bill that would effectively ban abortions from the moment of conception and potentially other forms of birth control, such as IUDs. Other Republicans have refused to rule out banning certain forms of contraception.

Everyone in this country needs to realize that nothing is off the table, and that’s why we must now protect the right to contraception. Our bill, the Right to Contraception Act, would create a statutory right for individuals to access contraception. This would be a national bill. This bill also protects the right of health care providers to provide contraceptives to their patients, it also empowers individuals by extending a private right of action against any state or government official that hinders these rights. We need to put every single Republican on the record on whether they support the right to contraception and, indeed, the right to bodily autonomy.

You know what the bottom line is? Who should have control over our bodies—us or a bunch of politicians? And we say, it should be us.

And on the way over here, I ran into a group of young people—they were in high school and in college—and they were putting together a quilt that says ‘Support ERA’ because their argument is that if we were to ratify the ERA, then all these protections—that Clarence Thomas has signaled should be subject to revisit by the Supreme Court—would all be protected. These young people get it. They are in the fight now because they know that their rights are being taken away. It gives me hope that those of us, when I was in college, abortion was not legal. And then it’s been legal for 50 years, and to think that a right that we thought we had and we fought for, is being taken away after 50 years, and therefore all these young people have fewer rights than we had—it is amazing to me.

And as one of my friends, who happens to be the Vice President now, said at one of our judiciary committee hearings—is there anything we can force men to do that comes close to what we are forcing women, and people who can bear children, to do in this country, and the person who testified could not think of anything. But I look at the men here—what if government were to tell you that you all had to go get vasectomies? Think about it. And to force women to bear children, not to have bodily autonomy, from the moment of conception—that’s where this country is heading, and that’s why we need this law.

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. In addition to introducing the Right to Contraception Act last week, she also introduced the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, to protect access to critical reproductive health care services, like birth control, and cancer screenings. Earlier this month, Senator Hirono also introduced the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act of 2022, which clarifies that it is illegal for anti-choice states to limit travel for abortion services, and would empower impacted individuals to bring civil action against those who restrict a woman’s right to cross state lines to receive legal reproductive care.

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