House Passes Bill Prohibiting States From Limiting Contraceptives, Abortifacients

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Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
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The House of Representatives passed a bill on Thursday that would prohibit states from limiting the possession and distribution of contraceptives and abortifacients, even if they have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Democratic North Carolina Rep. Kathy Manning’s Right To Contraception Act passed mostly along party lines, 228-195. Only eight Republicans joined all 220 Democrats in supporting the legislation. GOP members led by Iowa Rep. Ashley Hinson proposed legislation that would make most forms of birth control available over-the-counter, but it failed a motion to recommit.

Almost all women will use birth control at some point in their lives, and more than 96% of voters support access to birth control. Yet, the right to birth control is under attack by Republican lawmakers who are pushing disinformation about how contraceptives work,” Manning said in a floor speech.

The Right to Contraception Act prohibits states from limiting doctors from prescribing or patients from accessing “any device or medication used to prevent pregnancy,” includingall contraceptive products approved, cleared, or granted de novo classification by the Food and Drug Administration.” Those products may include “oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal-barrier methods, transdermal patches, and vaginal rings.”

That definition would likely cover the abortifacient Mifeprex, which many doctors consider to be a contraceptive. Mifeprex is approved by the FDA to “to end a pregnancy through 70 days gestation.” (RELATED: Major Retailers Ration Plan B Pills After Post-Dobbs Demand)

This bill endangers the health and safety of women. It allows planned parenthood and abortion providers to prescribe both on and off label drugs to be used for abortions without any restrictions. Additionally, and again, despite many drafts, Democrats included a definition of contraception that’s not limited to f.d.a.-approved products,” Republican Washington Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said in a floor speech. “This means that the bill creates an individual right to engage in contraception which can include the use of FDA-approved products but also any other action taken to prevent pregnancy, including non-approved products.”

“This legislation never went through the Energy and Commerce Committee. The only debate was in the Rules Committee,” McMorris Rodgers added.

Democrats introduced the legislation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In a concurring opinion, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas called on the Court to revisit its rulings in Griswold v. Connecticut, which established a right to contraception, and Obergefell v. Hodges, which established a right to same-sex marriage.

The House passed legislation on Tuesday that requires states to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. That bill received 47 Republican “yes” votes, and is likely to pass the Senate.