Senate Republicans block Dem request to pass birth control access bill
Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Wednesday blocked a unanimous consent request to pass legislation that would have created a federal right to birth control use.
Driving the news: Democrats moved to pass the bill through unanimous consent — meaning the bill would have been deemed passed had no one objected —in response to Justice Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion overturning Roe v. Wade, in which he said the Supreme Court should reconsider its precedents that protect access to contraceptives.
- The House passed companion legislation last week.
Details: The bill, known as the Right to Contraception Act and introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), would have protected "a person's ability to access contraceptives and ... a health care provider's ability to provide contraceptives" under federal law.
What they're saying: "My Republican colleagues are adamant in dragging this country back to a time when women had little or no autonomy over their choices," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who co-sponsored the bill, on the Senate floor.
- "I am shocked, I think many of my colleagues are, the American people as well, that American women today will have fewer rights than their mothers and even their grandmothers," he added.
The other side: A Republican House lawmaker, Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Iowa), earlier this month introduced legislation that would allow people over the age of 18 access to birth control pills over-the-counter that have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
- Ernst said that she is introducing accompanying legislation in the Senate, and then made a unanimous consent request to pass it, but Markey objected.
- The FDA is currently considering whether to approve over-the-counter contraceptive pills from HRA Pharma.