Jun 7, 2024 - News

Illinois Sen. Duckworth at forefront of Dems' push to protect reproductive rights

Photo of a woman on a podium talking to reporters

Sen. Tammy Duckworth following a vote on the Right to Contraception Act in the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images

Illinois Sen. Tammy Duckworth continues to lead Democrats' push to protect reproductive rights nationwide, despite this week's setback with the Right to Contraception Act.

Why it matters: The legislation would protect access to contraceptives, which are used for myriad health issues, not just for birth control.

The latest: Senate Republicans on Wednesday blocked the bill from moving ahead, with all but two GOP senators present voting against it.

Between the lines: Democrats calling out MAGA Republicans in an election year and just ahead of the second anniversary of the end of Roe v. Wade is a strategic move to get the attention of voters concerned about the future of reproductive rights.

The big picture: Support for contraceptives is bipartisan, with three in four Americans saying access to birth control pills should be easier, according to a Navigator Research report.

  • Limited access to birth control has been shown to disproportionately affect low-income people, people of color, those living in rural areas and LGBTQ+ people.
  • The bill would also protect access to Plan B, an emergency contraception that can be taken within three days of unprotected sex.

Zoom in: Duckworth's support of the contraception bill comes as the senator has been leading the legislative call to protect in vitro fertilization and other assisted reproductive technologies.

  • Duckworth and other senators this week introduced the Right to IVF Act, a bill encompassing Duckworth's Right to Build Families Act, which includes insurance coverage of IVF for federal employees, and protection for people who choose to dispose of non-viable embryos and health care providers who perform fertility care.
  • Republicans blocked passage of Duckworth's bill earlier this year.

What they're saying: "Extreme state abortion bans are undermining access to Plan B, survivors of sexual violence are facing greater challenges obtaining emergency contraception, health providers are being prevented from educating their patients on birth control options, and a sitting Supreme Court justice called for the reconsideration of this constitutional right, as other extremist judges rule in favor of limiting access to contraception," Duckworth said in a statement after Wednesday's vote.

  • "If Republicans were really pro-freedom, they would help us pass this important legislation to protect the freedom of every American to decide what happens to their own bodies, their own careers and their own futures."

What's next: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said this week he has started the process of getting the Right to IVF Act on the legislative calendar and to expect a vote in the coming weeks.

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