July 20, 2022

Hirono, Markey, Duckworth Introduce Bill to Codify the Right to Contraception

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI), member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joined Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing the Right to Contraception Act. This legislation, backed by over half of the Senate Democratic caucus, 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.

“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.”

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.

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.

On July 14, Representative Kathy Manning (D-NC) introduced the companion bill (H.R. 8373) in the House of Representatives, which the House is expected to vote on later this week. The White House issued a statement of support the Right to Contraception Act on Monday.

The full text of the legislation is available here.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Markey, and Duckworth, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CN), 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-CN), 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. 

“With Justice Thomas's concurring opinion, the far-right Supreme Court has put its game plan in plain sight: overturn Roe, then come for contraception,” Rebecca Hart Holder, Executive Director, Reproductive Equity Now. “At this moment of crisis, we need to do everything in our power to protect reproductive health care, and that starts with codifying the right to contraception. Thank you to Senators Markey, Hirono, and Duckworth for leading this fight in the Senate and making it crystal clear that reproductive health care is a non-negotiable human right.”

“No amount of funding for or access to contraception will ever negate the need for abortion. However, as we face the loss of abortion access in roughly half of the states, protecting and expanding access to quality, affordable birth control has never been more critical,” Clare Coleman, President and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association. “We commend Sens. Markey, Hirono, and other co-sponsors of the Right to Contraception Act for removing barriers to care so that everyone who wants or needs birth control can access it without interference. We look forward to continuing to work with our champions to protect reproductive health for all.”

“Power to Decide is proud to stand with Senators Markey and Hirono, and the many legislative champions who are supporting the Right to Contraception Act,” Raegan McDonald-Mosley, MD, MPH, CEO, Power to Decide. “We share your frustration that measures like this are still so necessary, when millions of people across the country already struggle to access contraception and other basic health care they need. We urge members of Congress to take this important step to ensure everyone has the opportunity to protect their reproductive well-being, now and in the future.”

A long-time champion for abortion access, Senator Hirono is committed to protecting the fundamental right to abortion care for all. This week, she introduced the Expanding Access to Family Planning Act, to protect access to critical reproductive health care services, like birth control, and cancer screenings. 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.

In June, Senator Hirono led several initiatives relating to abortion care and reproductive health. She led her colleagues in urging the Department of Defense to take immediate steps to support and protect female servicemembers seeking abortion services, and introduced the Affordability is Access Act (AAA) to help ensure access to over-the-counter birth control options. Senator Hirono also introduced the My Body, My Data Act, legislation to protect personal reproductive health data by minimizing the information collected and retained, and preventing that information from being disclosed or misused; the bill would protect reproductive health data from sources like fertility tracking apps.

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