Senate GOP Blocks Right to Contraception Bill

The bill aimed to guarantee access to contraception nationwide as Democrats seek to spotlight the issue ahead of the November elections.

A bill to establish a federal right to contraception failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate on June 5 as Democrats initiated their month-long blitz of reproductive legislation.

Members rejected a move to advance the legislation in a 51–39 vote. When it became evident that the bill did not have the 60 votes needed to move forward, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) changed his vote so he could bring it up for reconsideration at a later date.

The bill is not expected to pass out of the chamber either way, but Democrats were candid about their goal in bringing it to the floor.

“This vote poses one simple question: Do you believe Americans’ access to birth control should be protected, yes or no? Each senator that votes ‘no’ will be on the record on whether they support contravening Americans’ right to contraception,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the bill’s sponsor, at a press conference before the vote.

Democrats have signaled their intention to highlight abortion and other reproductive issues as part of their 2024 election strategy.

In keeping with that plan, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) promised to put those issues “front and center” in the coming weeks as the nation marks two years since the Supreme Court’s overturning of the federal right to abortion.

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“Donald Trump and MAGA Republicans will not be able to outrun their anti-abortion records, because the American people know that if given the chance, extremist Republicans will not stop in their campaign to strip away fundamental liberties in this country,” Mr. Schumer wrote in a June 2 letter to his colleagues.

“Democrats will never relent until we reverse the immense damage MAGA Republicans and the Supreme Court have inflicted, and we remain absolutely committed to doing everything we can to protect women, families, and reproductive freedom.”

‘Scare Tactics’

The Supreme Court’s June 2022 reversal of Roe v. Wade opened the door for states to resume regulating abortion on their terms. The decision led to tighter restrictions on the procedure in some states, including a few outright bans.

Contraception, however, remains widely accessible in all 50 states.

Noting this, Sen. Katie Britt (R-Ala.) accused her Democrat colleagues of launching a “summer of scare tactics” to drive voters to the polls.

“It’s not that they believe there is a problem they’re truly trying to solve. They’re prioritizing their own short-term partisan political interests,” Mrs. Britt said June 3 on the Senate floor.

“Sadly, this only does a disservice to the very families and the very women we should be trying to find common ground to help,” she said.

While she noted that she “100 percent” supports nationwide access to contraception, the senator said the bill in question “tramples on foundational religious liberty protections” traditionally viewed as bipartisan.

Sens. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) echoed Mrs. Britt’s concerns minutes before the vote, noting that their Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act aims to expand access to contraception without removing conscience protections for doctors and employers.

Meanwhile, Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) asserted that the Democrats’ legislation “defines contraception so broadly that it likely also includes a right to a chemical abortion pill.”

He added that Democrats’ push to cement a federal right to contraception was nothing more than “a political stunt designed to fearmonger and mislead the public” to gain votes this November.

Election Strategy

Despite those concerns, the White House expressed its support for the Right to Contraception Act’s passage, affirming its commitment to “defending reproductive freedom” in a statement of administration policy.

“Women must have the freedom to make deeply personal health care decisions, including the right to decide if and when to start or grow their family. Now is the time to safeguard the right to contraception once and for all,” the statement reads.

President Joe Biden has been a vocal advocate for expanding access to abortion and contraception despite his Catholic faith. As he seeks reelection to a second term this November, he is likely to make that stance a pillar of his platform.

The president’s candidacy has thus far failed to ignite the spark of enthusiasm among his base. As American families continue to struggle with the effects of inflation and high interest rates, one group he appears to be losing ground is with minority voters.

Thus far, the president’s candidacy has seemingly failed to ignite the spark of enthusiasm among his base. As American families continue to struggle with the effects of inflation and high interest rates, one group he appears to be losing ground with is minority voters.

Gallup surveys have shown more black and Hispanic voters—blocs that traditionally favor Democrats—switching parties since the 2020 election.

“People are leaving the Democratic Party and becoming Republicans,” Republican Michael Rivera, an elected commissioner in Berks County, Pennsylvania, told The Epoch Times.

“Their money is worth less. Salaries have not kept pace with inflation. The border is a huge mess and the Biden administration is doing nothing about it. And the economy is going in the wrong direction,” said Mr. Rivera, who is Hispanic.

Still, reproductive issues have been a difficult area for Republicans who vary widely in their beliefs on abortion and contraception. President Biden and other Democrats will look to capitalize on that inconsistency in the coming months.

Beth Brelje, Lawrence Wilson, T.J. Muscaro, and Nathan Worcester contributed to this report.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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