Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Senate Republicans block bill to protect access to contraception

By 37ci3 Jun6,2024



WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked a bill that would have established a federal right to access contraception, sinking a Democratic-led measure.

The vote on the Contraceptive Rights Act was 51-39, falling short of the 60 votes needed to defeat a filibuster and advance the bill. Republicans said it was unnecessary because the use of birth control is already protected by Supreme Court precedent.

Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine voted with Democrats to support the bill. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., changed his vote to no for procedural reasons so he could bring the bill back up later.

Democrats expected the GOP to scuttle the measure and floated it as an election-year “message” to highlight the contrast between the two parties. reproductive rightsviewed as a winning issue with independents and swing voters this fall.

D-Mass. “We’ve seen what the Supreme Court has done on abortion, and now there’s a real risk that they could do the same thing on contraception,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I’m really sick of the idea that Republicans think they can say two things at the same time — they can talk to their extremist group and say, ‘I’ll give you anything you want.’ We will ban abortion. IVFcontraception, whatever you want’ and then try to say to the rest of America, ‘Boy, we don’t want any part of this.’

Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass. and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, would establish nationwide rights for individuals to “obtain contraceptives and voluntarily practice contraception” and protect health care providers who offer it. It defines contraceptives as “any drug, device, or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy” and prohibits the federal government or states from imposing laws or standards that interfere with this right. It gives the Justice Department and affected private entities the power to sue to enforce the new protections.

Top Republicans saw the vote as a partisan game.

“This is a show vote. It’s not serious. It doesn’t mean anything. Moreover, it goes a long way. It creates no exception for conscience, it creates a mandate,” said Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who is running to become the next GOP leader in the Senate. “It’s a bogus vote because contraception, as far as I know, is not illegal. And to say that it’s in some way endangered, I think, should be embarrassing.”

Democrats argue the bill is necessary because the Supreme Court can’t be trusted to uphold precedent protecting contraceptive use. The 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut. They note that when the court struck down federal abortion rights in 2022, Judge Clarence Thomas wrote separately the court should “look again” at other precedents like Griswold. And one last quote request 1 in 5 Americans believe their right to contraception is at risk.

“Today, not only do we live in a country where tens of millions of women have their reproductive freedoms taken away, but we live in a country where tens of millions of people are concerned about more than something as simple as birth control,” Schumer said. . “It’s totally medieval. This is pain. This should never happen in the United States, but thanks to Donald Trump and the hard right, it is a reality.”

Murkowski, a longtime reproductive rights advocate who has sometimes been at odds with her party, said she had no problem voting for the bill.

“If this is a messaging bill, my message is this: I support a woman’s access to contraception. Pretty simple. So if we’re going to play texting, this is my texting,” Murkowski said.

Partisan divides

It’s one of several messaging bills being considered in Congress as the 2024 election nears. Senate Democrats He recently brought up a bipartisan border security bill trying to neutralize their political weaknesses on immigration. The Republican-controlled House recently voted on the bill prevent non-citizens from votingraising the issue with their constituents, a practice that is already illegal and very rare.

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., Roe v. Despite the overturning of the Wade and Thomas opinion, he said concerns about the contraception bill were unfounded.

“No one is going to topple Griswold,” he said. “No way.”

Hawley said he opposes the bill because it could affect rights to abortion drugs. “It would also make an abortifacient mifepristone — mifepristone, not contraception — is available in all 50 states regardless of what the state law is, and it would override my state’s law, a number of states’ laws. It will take it out of the hands of the voters,” Hawley said. “This is an abortion issue. This is not a matter of contraception.”

Mifepristone is an abortion drug, not a contraceptive, intended to prevent pregnancy.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans held a lengthy lunch meeting during which lawmakers disagreed on the path forward for Wednesday’s vote, according to two people in the room.

Some Republicans thought it would be helpful to go “criminal” by voting to start debate on the bill. According to Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., that includes Collins proposing to remove “horrible parts” of the bill.

“I thought it was a good idea as opposed to just voting and moving on,” Johnson said Wednesday.

Johnson, who previously criticized the GOP leadership for being too cooperative with Democrats, criticized party leaders during the meeting, primarily Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for not negotiating with Schumer ahead of time, according to sources. .

“There was no engagement. We had no guidance in this matter. Listen, there’s a lot of smart people in that room, but you know you need a leader,” Johnson added.

Cornyn pressed for “unanimity” during the meeting. He later said they discussed a vote to begin the debate and used that time to propose an alternative bill by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa. Others said extending the process would at least shut down the Senate so Democrats could not move forward with other planned messaging bills next week, including IVF protections.

But ultimately, the broad consensus at the meeting was to quickly pass the contraceptive vote, according to sources. Days before the vote, 11 Senate Republicans, including Johnson and Ernst, signed a letter saying they would oppose all Democratic legislation and judicial nominees to challenge Trump’s guilty verdict in New York.



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