July 27, 2022

Hirono Urges Republicans to Pass the Right to Contraception Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) called on her Republican colleagues to protect the right to contraception in a speech on the Senate floor. The Right to Contraception Act, legislation she introduced last week with Senators Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), 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. Senator Hirono’s remarks were delivered right before Senator Markey asked the Senate to pass the Right to Contraception Act via unanimous consent, which Republicans objected to.  

Senator Hirono highlighted many of the intentionally misleading statements Republicans have made about concerns about the Supreme Court overturning the right to contraception, including a colleague who said it was ‘pure hysteria.’ “This is not ‘pure hysteria’ to the millions of women across the country who woke up one morning in June and no longer had a constitutional right. When it comes to this far-right, agenda-driven Supreme Court, nothing is off the table, and nothing is ‘pure hysteria,’” said Senator Hirono in her remarks.  

“Last month, the far-right majority on the Supreme Court overturned nearly 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to get an abortion,” she went on to say. “This decision was the result of a decades-long effort by far-right Republicans and right-wing groups to pack the courts with politicians in robes, and they’re just getting started. For this MAGA majority, controlling women’s bodies doesn’t just stop at forcing women to give birth, they actually want to ban contraception.”

The Right to Contraception Act was introduced after Justice Thomas signaled his intent to revisit Griswold v. Connecticut in his opinion to overturn Roe. 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. Last week, the House of Representatives voted 228-195 to pass its version of the Right to Contraception Act.

In her remarks, Senator Hirono challenged comments made by Senate Republicans suggesting the right to contraception is not at risk. She highlighted the fact that several Republican-led state legislatures are already preparing to take away access to contraception, and urged her Republican colleagues to support the Right to Contraception Act.

“So I say to my Republican colleagues—if any of you object this bill, come down to the Senate floor and tell the American people the truth,” said Senator Hirono. “Today, my Republican colleagues have a choice—do they support the right to contraception, and an individual’s right to make decisions about our bodies and our health care, or will they allow the government to tell millions and millions of women what to do?”

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.

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.

The full text of Senator Hirono’s remarks is below and video can be found here.

As we focus on contraception rights this afternoon, listen to some of the comments made by my Republican male colleagues:

“They’re not going to change the law on contraception.”

"There is zero threat of contraception being taken away."

"Pure hysteria."

“I have no reason to believe these precedents are going to fall.”

These are some of the statements by my Republican colleagues—all of them male, by the way—have made regarding contraception: "Pure hysteria," they say.

This is not “pure hysteria” to the millions of women across the country who woke up one morning in June and no longer had a constitutional right. When it comes to this far-right, agenda-driven Supreme Court, nothing is off the table, and nothing is “pure hysteria.”

Last month, the far-right majority on the Supreme Court overturned nearly 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to get an abortion. This decision was the result of a decades-long effort by far-right Republicans and right-wing groups to pack the courts with politicians in robes, and they’re just getting started.

For this MAGA majority, controlling women’s bodies doesn’t stop at forcing women to give birth, they actually want to ban contraception. We know this because in his concurring opinion to overturn Roe, Justice Thomas wrote that the Supreme Court should re-consider—re-consider—the rulings that protect same-sex relationships, marriage equality, and yes, contraception.

This kind of signaling by a Justice of the Supreme Court should be taken seriously. So my Republican colleagues saying, “they have no reason to believe” precedent will be overturned is resorting to magical thinking that no one should believe. After all, the Supreme Court just overturned a nearly 50 year precedent that women in this country relied on for nearly half a century—half a century, that’s two generations. In fact, radical MAGA Republicans in state legislatures across the country are gearing up.

In Ohio, House Republicans introduced a bill that would effectively ban all abortions from the moment of conception, and potentially other forms of birth control like IUDs. Other Republicans have refused to rule out banning certain forms of contraception. We are living in a post-Roe world where our rights are on the chopping block. So no, this is not “pure hysteria.” The American public knows this. Democrats know this.

So I say to my Republican colleagues—if any of you object to this bill, come down to the Senate floor and tell the American people the truth. Just be honest if you do not support guaranteeing the right to contraception, because in this post-Roe world, any suggestion that this Court won’t overturn precedent is no longer something to hide behind.

But if my Republican colleagues do support the right to contraception, then they should have no problem with supporting our bill, which would create a statutory right for individuals to access contraception, protect the right of health care providers to provide contraceptives to their patients, and empower individuals by extending a private right of action against any state or government official that hinders these rights.

Today, my Republican colleagues have a choice—do they support the right to contraception, and an individual’s right to make decisions about our bodies and our health care, or will they allow the government to tell millions and millions of women what to do?

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