July 22, 2022
Yesterday, the U.S. House passed by a bipartisan vote of 228-195 the “Right to Contraception Act,” legislation that explicitly codifies the right to use contraceptives in federal law and gives health care providers the right to prescribe “any device or medication used to prevent pregnancy” to patients. The bill also allows the federal and state government, patients, and health care providers to bring civil suits against those alleged to have violated the law.
Lawmakers passed the bill in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling overturning the Constitutional right to abortion, and in which Justice Clarence Thomas’s separate concurrence invited the Court to revisit previous Supreme Court precedent mandating access to birth control as wrongly decided.
Thomas also suggested that previous rulings in favor LGBTQ rights should also be revisited in light of Dobbs. In response, the House passed the “Respect for Marriage Act,” earlier this week, which repeals previous federal laws struck down by the Supreme Court. That bill also codifies current law that federal government and state officials must provide respect to couples whose marriages are lawfully celebrated without regard to sex, race, ethnicity, or national origin of the married persons.
Mary Bonauto, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders’ (GLAD) Civil Rights Project Director, issued the following statement on the House passage of the Respect for Marriage Act:
“The bipartisan passage of the ‘Right to Contraception Act’ is a crucial step to ensure that those who need it can freely access reproductive health care such as birth control,” said Bonauto. “The choice to use contraception is a personal one and the government has no interest in interfering in that decision. That is and should remain long-settled law. But as the Dobbs ruling has created widespread fear that such fundamental issues may again be up for debate, we are grateful that the House is proactively working to protect fundamental American freedoms.
“We hope that the Congress continues using its constitutional powers to protect other important rights on which Americans rely, including by passing legislation to protect voting rights and our democracy, to ensure availability of reproductive and medically necessary gender-related health care, and to prevent discrimination.
“As Dobbs demonstrates, our basic liberties and rights, such as privacy, intimacy, bodily autonomy, and to form families and raise our children are concerns of Americans more broadly. GLAD will continue to support all efforts to preserve those bedrock freedoms.”