Senate Rejects Democrats’ Birth Control Bill

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A Democratic-driven bill aimed at safeguarding access to contraception was blocked in the Senate on Wednesday, not reaching the necessary 60 votes to overcome a filibuster.

Although the outcome was anticipated, Senate Democrats used this opportunity to highlight a critical political issue they believe will benefit vulnerable members and President Joe Biden as the November elections approach.

“This is not a show vote. This is a show-us-who-you-are vote,” stated Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “The Republicans don’t want to show who they really are.”

The bill intended to establish federal protections for birth control by designating it as a “fundamental right,” a step Democrats claimed was essential in a post-Roe climate without assured abortion access. It includes religious liberty exemptions for contraception providers, and Schumer labeled opposing claims that it expands abortion as “vulgar fearmongering.”

“For my Republican colleagues who say this is just a messaging vote for Democrats, it doesn’t have to be if you stand with the vast majority of Americans who want to protect the right to access contraception,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), who is seeking reelection.

Senate Rejects Democrats’ Birth Control Bill
FILE – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pauses before talking with reporters after a meeting with fellow Democrats at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, June 4, 2024. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Senate vote on the Right to Contraception Act concluded at 51-39, largely along party lines. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), sided with all Democrats.

Schumer eventually switched his vote to no, a procedural strategy allowing him to bring the measure up for another vote more easily in the future.

In response, Senate Republicans introduced their own version this week, led by Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA). Her proposal, the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, seeks to expand the availability of birth control options while preventing tax dollars from funding “destroy life” by supporting abortion or abortion providers.

“It’s important the American people understand what the Democrats are peddling,” Ernst remarked. “[The bill] creates a precedent to mandate access to abortion drugs for women and girls of all ages. It also allows taxpayer dollars to be funneled to organizations like Planned Parenthood.”

Republicans have distanced themselves from recent court decisions in Alabama and Arizona that threatened access to in vitro fertilization and abortion, respectively.

Rachel Schilke contributed to this report.

Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry
Ramsey Touchberry is a Capitol Hill Reporter focusing on energy and environment. Previously, Ramsey covered Congress for Newsweek and was a multimedia reporter at a local NPR and PBS affiliate in Florida. A native of the Sunshine State, Ramsey graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in broadcast and digital journalism.

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