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The House will vote next week on creating a statutory right to contraception after the Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe v. Wade prompted concerns that legal cases that have guaranteed access could be reexamined.
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said the bill (H.R. 8373) would protect the availability of birth control established in rulings such as Griswold v. Connecticut by putting it into federal law.
“The House will not sit back and allow extremist Republicans and their judicial appointees to limit Americans’ access to contraception,” Hoyer said in a statement Friday.
The opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the Supreme Court’s 1973 abortion decision, said the ruling was limited to abortion.
In a concurring opinion, however, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called on the court to revisit cases concerning the right to contraception, same-sex marriage, and same-sex consensual sexual relations — a suggestion that’s prompted calls for action by supporters of those rulings.
“While Justice Alito specifically claimed that Dobbs was limited to abortion and had no effect on other fundamental rights, I find that assurance to be cold comfort,” House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said at a Thursday hearing examining the potential broader impacts of the Dobbs decision.
Other Bills Likely
Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) said Democrats are looking into further protections for same-sex marriage.
“We as a caucus are committed to making sure we do everything possible to protect the American people from the Supreme Court’s ongoing efforts to rip away well-established and well accepted treatment in this country,” he said in an interview.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the chamber would work on legislation to “further codify freedoms which Americans currently enjoy” in a June 27 letter sent to her colleagues. She listed in-vitro fertilization and marriage equality as areas Democrats might address.
Any measure passed by the House would need the support of at least 10 Republicans to advance in the Senate as 60 votes are needed to cut off debate. Sens. Susan Collins(R-Maine) said after the Dobbs ruling she’s been working with Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on legislation that would codify Griswold.
President Joe Biden cited Thomas in a speech the day the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, but he stopped short of calling on Congress to codify that right. Biden, who is visiting the Middle East, has yet to make a statement on the House bill.
With assistance from Maia Spoto