WASHINGTON— U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) in introducing the Right to Contraception Act, legislation that would codify Americans’ right to contraception, which the Supreme Court first recognized more than half a century ago in its decision in Griswold v. Connecticut.
The introduction follows Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which overturned Roe v. Wade—in which he urged the Court to reconsider its 1965 Griswold decision. Several states have already restricted access to contraception by cutting off public funding for it, erroneously defining abortion in such a way to include contraception.
“Americans should have access to comprehensive health care regardless of where they live,” said the senators. “Following efforts in several states to restrict access to contraception, this legislation is necessary to ensuring women have the freedom to access reproductive health care services.”
The Right to Contraception Act would uphold access to contraception by:
- Creating a statutory right for individuals to obtain contraceptives and to engage in contraception;
- Establishing a corresponding right for health care providers to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information related to contraception;
- Allowing the Department of Justice, as well as providers and individuals harmed by restrictions on contraception access made unlawful under the legislation, to go to court to enforce these rights; and
- Protecting a range of contraceptive methods, devices, and medications used to prevent pregnancy, including but not limited to oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal barrier methods, transdermal patches, vaginal rings, fertility-awareness based methods, and sterilization procedures.
Following the Dobbs decision overturning the right to choose, Warner and Kaine have strongly advocated for legislation to protect Americans’ access to reproductive health care. They are cosponsors of legislation to protect the right of women to travel across state lines for abortion services and help protect medical providers from being punished for providing patients with this care. They also cosponsored legislation to protect access to critical reproductive health care services like wellness exams, birth control, cancer screenings and more. Additionally, Kaine is a cosponsor of legislation to expand access to affordable over-the-counter birth control and legislation to protect access to medication abortions.
The legislation is also cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Tom Carper (D-DE), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jack Reed (D-RI), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI). Companion legislation was introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Kathy Manning (NC-06), Nikema Williams (GA-05), Sara Jacobs (CA-53), and Angie Craig (MN-02).
The Right to Contraception Act is endorsed by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, National Organization for Women, Power to Decide, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Reproductive Health Access Project, Catholics for Choice, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Upstream USA, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Partnership for Women & Families, Jewish Women International, Positive Women’s Network-USA, and the National Council of Jewish Women.
Full text of the bill is available here.