House Democrats Begin Bid to Force Contraceptive Vote, Pressuring G.O.P.

House Democrats Begin Bid to Force Contraceptive Vote, Pressuring G.O.P.

The House first passed the Right to Contraception Act in July of 2022, when Democrats controlled the House, immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision, in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, that overturned abortion rights at the federal level. Democrats pushed through the bill over almost unanimous Republican opposition in part because Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion in Dobbs, wrote that the court “should reconsider” other precedents beyond Roe, including those protecting same-sex marriage and the right to contraception. Senate Republicans blocked the legislation, which was opposed by anti-abortion groups that said the bill’s definition of contraceptives could be interpreted to include pills that induce abortion.

“Extremist Republican politicians are waging war on women’s reproductive health,” said Representative Kathy Manning, Democrat of North Carolina and the lead sponsor of the bill. “They’ve stripped women of their constitutional right to obtain an abortion, attacked fertility treatments and are now attempting to restrict access to birth control.”

Outside groups are boosting the legislative push by pouring tens of millions of dollars into competitive House districts to amplify the message. The main super PAC supporting House Democrats last month announced a new $100 million fund focusing on abortion rights in swing districts. And the group Americans for Contraception plans to spend more than $7 million on television and digital ads, some targeting Republicans in the Senate who vote against the bill and House members who do not sign the petition, and others thanking vulnerable Senate Democrats who vote to pass the bill this week. They also plan to have a 20-foot-tall I.U.D. roaming around Washington to raise awareness on the issue of contraception.

Republicans remain in a bind on issues of reproductive rights, as they struggle to reconcile their party’s hard-line policies on women’s health measures and the reality that they are out of step with the vast majority of the country. Despite that, they continue to tuck anti-abortion policies into pending legislation, a sign of the power of the anti-abortion lobby in national politics.

A new Republican-written bill to fund the Department of Veterans Affairs includes language that prohibits the department from offering abortion counseling and, in certain cases, abortions to veterans and beneficiaries. And the Defense Department’s 2025 appropriations bill once again includes language that says no funds can be used for “any abortion, including through a medical benefits package or health benefits program that includes coverage of abortion.”

“House Republicans’ dangerous plans to embed extreme anti-abortion restrictions in must-pass legislation make one thing super clear,” said Viet Shelton, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “House Republicans are still obsessed with banning abortion nationwide, and their most vulnerable members are all in on this radical pursuit.”

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