Senator Ernst blocks Senators Markey, Murray, Hirono, and Duckworth’s Right to Contraception Act following passage in House
***WATCH: Senator Murray calls out Republicans’ extremism***
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), sought unanimous consent to pass the Right to Contraception Act to protect every American’s fundamental right to use birth control—but Republican Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) blocked the common-sense legislation. Senators Markey and Murray pushed to quickly pass their legislation with Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) following passage of companion legislation in the House of Representatives last week—despite nearly the entire House Republican conference voting against the bill.
“It has been nearly sixty years since the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut—and affirmed Americans’ right to privacy and with it: their right to contraception. So you’d think this would be a settled issue. And for the vast majority of Americans—it is,” said Senator Murray. “Yet, as we just saw, somehow—in the year 2022—this isn’t a settled issue for Republican politicians.”
“Just last week, 195 House Republicans voted against the Right to Contraception Act. And now they have blocked action in the Senate as well. The evidence of where Republicans actually stand on birth control is overwhelming. They aren’t standing for women. They aren’t standing for families. They aren’t standing for a right nearly all Americans support,” added Senator Murray. “They are simply standing in the way.”
“Today, Republicans showed the American people where they stand: no abortions, and no birth control to prevent the need for one. The right-wing extremists in the United States Senate and on the Supreme Court are way out of touch with the vast majority of the American people, and yet they still want to tell them what to do with their bodies and their lives,” said Senator Markey. “While Republicans refuse to protect our fundamental rights as the Supreme Court and right-wing state legislatures take them away, my Democratic colleagues and I will continue our efforts to keep in place the fundamental, privacy-based rights that Americans have had for decades, and codify into federal law the right to contraception.”
The Right to Contraception Act would protect the right to use contraception, which was first recognized by the Supreme Court more than half a century ago but is now under threat—with Justice Clarence Thomas writing the Court should revisit the decision, Republican lawmakers in states across the country eyeing restrictions on birth control, and Republicans in Congress blocking commonsense legislation to enshrine the right to use birth control into federal law.
Read full text of the legislation here.
Senator Murray’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:
“Thank you M. President.
“It has been nearly sixty years since the Supreme Court decided Griswold v. Connecticut—and affirmed Americans’ right to privacy and with it: their right to contraception.
“So you’d think this would be a settled issue.
“And for the vast majority of Americans—it is.
“The right to birth control is overwhelmingly popular.
“It turns out, people want to be able to control their own bodies and make their own decisions about starting a family.
“Yet, as we just saw, somehow—in the year 2022—this isn’t a settled issue for Republican politicians.
“We have seen some of my Republican colleagues not only block this, but try to deny reality, try to say “This isn’t an issue” or claim that Democrats are just, “wasting time.”
“Because I can’t help but remember how we all heard some Republicans saying the Supreme Court wouldn’t overturn Roe as well.
“How they tried to claim Democrats were overreacting, even as they stacked our courts with anti-abortion judges, and worked for decades to chip away at abortion rights.
“And now, we are seeing the nightmare we warned about become reality: women unable to control their own bodies, and get the abortion care they need.
“A nightmare Republicans tried to deny—and are still trying to deny, even as it happens, even as ten year olds are having to travel across state lines for an abortion after being raped, even as women are being left bleeding for days waiting for treatment for their miscarriage.
“So when Republicans say they support the right to birth control, my issue isn’t simply that I’m skeptical. It’s that I know better.
“And let’s be clear, when I say I know better, I don’t mean in my gut. I mean I have heard Republicans’ own words. I am watching their own actions.
“Justice Thomas said explicitly in his concurring opinion in Dobbs that he wants the court to reconsider Griswold, which affirmed the right to contraception.
“The senior Senator from Tennessee said the Griswold decision was “unsound.”
“That alone would be scary enough.
“But Republicans aren’t just talking about undermining access to birth control—they’re already taking action.
“Read the legislation from Republicans in Idaho, Missouri, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Michigan, which would, in fact, outlaw Plan B and IUDs.
“Talk to women who have already gone to the pharmacy only to be denied their birth control or Plan B. Yes, this is already happening to people.
“And just last week, 195 House Republicans voted against the Right to Contraception Act.
“And now they have blocked action in the Senate as well.
“The evidence of where Republicans actually stand on birth control is overwhelming. They aren’t standing for women. They aren’t standing for families. They aren’t standing for a right nearly all Americans support.
“They are simply standing in the way.
“I’d like to thank the senior Senator from Massachusetts, the junior Senator from Illinois, and the junior Senator from Hawaii for their work with me on the Right to Contraception Act Republicans just blocked.
“I know we will all keep working on this.
“And I’d like to set the record straight—because so many of the arguments we have seen from Republicans just don’t add up they are trying to distract from their extreme position. But we won’t let them.
“M. President, this bill is incredibly straightforward.
“So you simply cannot say you support the right to birth control and then block this bill.
“I hope everyone will listen closely, because here is what this bill actually does. It simply codifies Americans’ right to birth control into law. That’s it.
“And you don’t have to take my word for it, read it yourself! It’s all of 15 pages.
“It protects a right people depend on, and makes sure no one can take it away. And, we are talking about a really basic—and really fundamental—right here.
“Since that right was affirmed half a century ago, generations of Americans have used contraception to control their future, manage and treat their health needs, and start a family when they are ready to.
“For them, it’s not political. And it shouldn’t be political here in Congress either.
“Especially when protecting this right is supported by a majority of Democrats, a majority of Independents, and, yes, even a clear majority of Republicans.
“M. President, the American people are watching closely.
“They were watching previously when Senate Republicans blocked us from protecting the right to travel across states to get abortion care.
“They were watching last week when Senate Republicans blocked expanding support for our nation’s long-standing family planning program.
“They were watching when the vast majority of Republicans in the House voted against the right to birth control.
“And they are watching right now as Republicans block a bill that preserves their right to use condoms, and take the pill, and get IUDs, and buy Plan B.
“As Republicans refuse to let us protect that right and pass this bill and continue denying the threats that are already undermining that right.
“This is a basic, fundamental right: and mark my words: the American people will not forget Republicans blocking us from getting this done.”