WASHINGTON (KFOR) – The House passed a bill Thursday to safeguard access to contraceptives in a 228-195 vote, with all five Oklahoma Representatives voting against the legislation.
The legislation, titled the Right to Contraception Act, is the Democratic response to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s Roe v. Wade overturn concurring opinion which said the bench should overturn other precedents, including Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 ruling that secured the right for married couples to use contraceptives.
Thomas did not specify a 1972 decision that legalized the use of contraceptives by unmarried people as well, but Democrats say they consider that at risk as well.
“Let’s be clear: This bill is about allowing women the freedom to choose the contraception that works best for them, to allow them to prevent unintended pregnancies,” said Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., who sponsored the legislation. “American women, indeed all Americans, deserve the freedom to make their own decisions about their bodies, their family planning, and their lives.”
Republicans, however, used debate Thursday to argue that the legislation was rushed to the floor — Democrats introduced it on Friday and first debated it Monday — and describe the measure as superfluous.
Some also contended that the bill would protect contraceptives not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), based on how the measure defines them.
Including Oklahoma’s 5th District Representative Stephanie Bice, who spoke on the House floor Thursday during the debate.
“I’m also concerned that the bill we are considering today could endanger women by allowing the use of products or methods that are not FDA approved,” said Rep. Bice.
The House’s 228-195 roll call was largely along party lines. Every Democrat supported the legislation, while Republicans overwhelmingly opposed it by 195-8.
Republicans have put forward their own contraceptives bills, including Representative Bice.
According to the Congresswoman’s office, her counter legislation – called the Access to Safe Contraception Act – “uses a less broad definition of the word contraception to exclude pregnancy-ending medication.”
KFOR reached out to Oklahoma’s US Representatives on their votes against the bill, so far three have responded.
Congressman Tom Cole sent the following:
“Although deceptively named the ‘Right to Contraceptives Act,’ the bill is overly broad, and I am concerned that it could be interpreted beyond contraceptives, potentially requiring states to provide abortion drugs, permit access to mail-order or telemedicine abortion products or even include contraceptive products not yet approved by the FDA. To be clear, contraceptive access is not the same as abortion and as a Republican who understands that distinction, I am proud to be a cosponsor of H.R. 8421, which prohibits individual states from banning contraceptives authorized for use by the FDA.”Rep. Tom Cole, OK-04
Congressman Kevin Hern sent the following statement:
“This was yet another distraction tactic from a Democrat majority currently failing to address the economic crisis. Americans are hurting, but all Pelosi has to offer is a poorly-written bill that leaves the door open for abortion pills on demand and does nothing to lower inflationary pressures.”Rep. Kevin Hern, OK-01
Congresswoman Stephanie Bice did not provide a specific quote on today’s vote, instead pointing us to her floor speech and her counter legislation.
This story will be updated with quotes from Representatives Frank Lucas and Markwayne Mullin when they are received.