Senate GOP blocks bill to guarantee access to contraception

Rich Pedroncelli/AP/File

A one-month dose of hormonal birth control pills is shown in Sacramento, California, in 2016.


Senate Republicans voted on Wednesday to block a Democratic bill that would guarantee access to contraception across the country, as Democrats seek to highlight the issue in the lead-up to the November election.

The bill – the Right to Contraception Act – would enshrine in federal law the right of individuals to purchase and use contraceptives, as well as the right of health care providers to provide them. This applies to birth control pills, Plan B pills, condoms, and other forms of contraception.

The legislation failed to advance in a procedural vote by 51 votes to 39. Most Republicans dismissed the effort as an unnecessary and overly broad political messaging vote.

GOP Senators Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins have voted with Democrats in favor of introducing the bill. Schumer switched his vote to no at the last minute in a procedural move that would allow Democrats to bring up the bill again in the future if they wanted to.

“This is a show vote. It’s not serious,” said Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. “Plus, it’s a huge overreach. There are no exceptions to the pronoun. …It’s a false vote because contraception, as far as I know, is not illegal. It’s not unavailable.”

The vote is part of a larger campaign by Senate Democrats to draw attention to how the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will impact all aspects of reproductive health — not just abortion — as the election approaches. Democrats are highlighting the issue this month, which marks the second anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling.

“In the coming weeks, Senate Democrats will put reproductive freedoms at the top of this chamber’s priorities, so the American people can see for themselves who will stand up to defend their fundamental freedoms,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said before the vote.

Senate Democrats have also introduced a legislative package to establish a nationwide right to in vitro fertilization, which is expected to come up for a vote soon. It comes after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that the destruction of embryos could be considered “wrongful death.” While the state Legislature took action aimed at protecting IVF in the wake of the ruling, Democrats see this as just one example of how access to reproductive health care is under threat across the country.

“In the nearly two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, our nation has witnessed the horrific consequences of the Republicans’ anti-science, anti-women campaign that has put in vitro fertilization at risk for millions of Americans who depend on it for their treatment. “In the nearly two years since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, our nation has witnessed the horrific consequences of the Republicans’ anti-science, anti-women campaign that has put in vitro fertilization at risk for millions of Americans who depend on it for their treatment,” said Tammy Duckworth, Democratic Senator from Illinois. who became pregnant through artificial insemination: “they start or grow their family.”

Republicans have introduced their own bills on artificial insemination and contraception in an attempt to make the case that Democrats are unfairly trying to paint them as extreme. Republican Senators Katie Britt and Ted Cruz introduced a bill called the IVF Protection Act in May, and Republican Senator Joni Ernst has introduced a separate bill to enhance access to contraception.

“We will have an alternative that clearly demonstrates that Republicans support contraception,” said Senate Republican John Thune.

Before voting on the Democratic-led bill, Ernst attempted to pass her alternative birth control bill by unanimous consent, but the request was blocked by Democrats.

Asked how her efforts differed from what Democrats wanted, Ernst said: “It does not include Plan B, which many right-wingers would consider abortifacient services. Big discrimination. We want to prevent pregnancy, not terminate pregnancy.”

Emergency contraception pills sold as Plan B One-Step do not prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus and It does not cause miscarriageAccording to the US Food and Drug Administration.

Birth control pills, a powerful dose of the birth control hormone levonorgestrel, prevent or delay the release of an egg from a woman’s ovary — a step that occurs long before pregnancy.

Democrats have argued that the GOP-led bills are inadequate, with Democratic Sen. Patty Murray claiming that Britt and Cruz’s IVF legislation would not actually protect the procedure, noting that the bill does not address the destruction of embryos.

“Unlike GOP legislation that would not protect IVF and is merely a PR tool for Republicans to hide their extremism, our Right to IVF Act would actually protect Americans from attempts to restrict IVF and would allow more people to access these vital services at a cost Less. “Cost,” she said.

Democrats on Tuesday focused on reproductive health care during a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing titled “The Assault on Women’s Liberties.”

After the hearing, Murray told reporters, “The women’s experiences are too personal for Republicans to trade on them, and the GOP’s record is too clear for them to deny.”

The Democratic-led bill to ensure access to contraception was introduced by Democratic Senators Ed Markey, Mazie Hirono and Duckworth.

CNN’s Brenda Goodman contributed reporting.

This story has been updated with additional information.

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