By Caleb Hampton
Last Thursday, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, and Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Washington, introduced a bill in the United States House of Representatives to codify the right to access contraception.
The introduction of the Protecting Access to Contraception Act of 2022 comes on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe vs. Wade, thereby eliminating federal abortion protections. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote an opinion on that decision stating that the court should reconsider other due process precedents, including Griswold vs. Connecticut, the 1965 Supreme Court decision that recognized there is a constitutional right to access contraception.
“In Justice Thomas’ concurring opinion, he opened the door to going after other fundamental rights that Americans have enjoyed for decades, including the right to contraception,” said Thompson. “I believe that everyone, regardless of the state in which they live, should have access to safe, effective, affordable and accessible methods of family planning and contraception. That’s why today, with my colleague Rep. Jayapal, I introduced legislation preventing states or localities from prohibiting or restricting the sale, purchase, possession, transportation, or use of contraception to ensure that further rights are not eroded by this extreme Supreme Court.”
Jayapal, who chairs the Congressional Progressive Caucus, echoed those remarks. “When it comes to our reproductive freedom, it is clear that this right-wing, extremist Supreme Court will not stop at stripping us of our right to safe and legal abortion. It is incumbent on us to ensure that our right to reproductive health care remains protected,” she said. “Access to contraception is crucial to limiting unintended pregnancies. We are already seeing efforts by state and local governments to take away access to contraception methods. With this bill, we will guarantee that anyone who wants access to contraceptive care can be able to get it without state or local officials weighing in on their bodies and their reproductive choices.”
The Protecting Access to Contraception Act of 2022 would prohibit state or local governments from banning or restricting the possession, sale, purchase, transportation or use of any contraceptive. The legislation allows for a private right-of-action for people harmed by any violation of this law and authorizes the Department of Justice to bring civil action to remedy any such violations.
The bill defines contraceptives broadly and includes birth control medication, IUDs, condoms, and emergency contraception, as well as other relevant FDA-approved products, devices or medications.