House Democrats and a handful of their Republican colleagues on Thursday approved legislation to codify the right to contraception in the United States.
The bill, which passed on a 228-195 vote, seeks to protect contraception rights against future Supreme Court decisions following the high court’s controversial ruling last month to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Sponsored by North Carolina Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning, the Right to Contraception Act establishes the right for individuals to obtain and use contraceptives. It permits health care providers to prescribe or provide contraceptives.
“The right to contraception is a fundamental right, central to a person’s privacy, health, wellbeing, dignity, liberty, equality, and ability to participate in the social and economic life of the nation,” Manning wrote in the bill, noting that the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized the constitutional right to contraception.
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it faces a less certain outcome.
Following the high court’s Roe decision, some signaled other opinions would come that would hamper rights like contraception and interracial and same-sex marriages.
“In future cases, we should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” Justice Clarence Thomas wrote one day before the court abolished Roe.
In that 1965 Griswold case, the court voted 7-2 to strike down a law restricting married couples’ access to birth control. The majority stated that such statutes are impermissible because they violate the right to privacy for citizens.
Manning said the right to contraception has repeatedly been recognized internationally as a human right.
The bill’s text noted that the United Nations Population Fund had published several reports outlining family planning as a fundamental human right that advances women’s health, economic empowerment, and equality.
Further, the World Health Organization internationally recognizes access to contraceptives as advancing other human rights such as the right to life, liberty, expression, health, work, and education.
“Contraception is safe, essential health care, and access to contraceptive products and services is central to people’s ability to participate equally in economic and social life in the United States and globally,” Manning said. “Contraception allows people to make decisions about their families and their lives. Contraception is key to sexual and reproductive health. It is critical to preventing unintended pregnancy, is highly effective in preventing and treating a wide array of often severe medical conditions and decreases the risk of certain cancers.”