Cantwell, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Protect the Right to Contraception Nationwide

As GOP-controlled states drag birth control access back to the 1950s, Democrats fight to defend Americans’ freedom to control their own bodies

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 29 Democratic colleagues in introducing the Right to Contraception Act to codify the right to contraception access established by the Supreme Court ruling Griswold v. Connecticut in 1965. The bill would also protect healthcare providers who prescribe contraceptives and information on contraception; and allow the Department of Justice, providers, and patients to bring legal action should this law be violated.

“The right to access birth control has ensured life-changing social and economic freedom for women. An overwhelming majority of Americans believe birth control should remain legal and accessible, but far-right politicians and judges across the country are trying to weaken or overturn this precedent — one that should be long past settled,” said Sen. Cantwell. “I will continue to defend women’s right to privacy and choice in light of these attacks.”

After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many conservative states have introduced legislation to ban or limit access to contraceptives, including Plan B and intrauterine devices, (IUDs). Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and Missouri have already barred Planned Parenthood from their state Medicaid programs, severely limiting access for residents in those states.

The Right to Contraception Act would protect against these attacks and uphold access to contraception by:

  • Creating a statutory right for individuals to obtain and use contraceptives;
  • Establishing a right for health care providers to provide contraceptives and information related to contraception;
  • Allowing the Department of Justice, providers, and individuals harmed by restrictions on contraception access made unlawful under this legislation to go to court to enforce these rights;
  • Protecting a range of contraceptive methods, devices, and medications that are legally marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, such as FDA-approved oral contraceptives, long-acting reversible contraceptives, emergency contraceptives, internal and external condoms, injectables, vaginal barrier methods, transdermal patches, vaginal rings, fertility-awareness based methods, and sterilization procedures.

Following the Dobbs decision, Justice Clarence Thomas authored a concurring opinion urging the Supreme Court to revisit other rights grounded in the long standing interpretation of the 14th amendment, ensuring the constitutional right to privacy which protects the right to contraception.

The Right to Contraception Act is endorsed by: Planned Parenthood Federation of America, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Women’s Law Center, National Organization for Women, Power to Decide, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, Reproductive Health Access Project, Catholics for Choice, Association of Maternal & Child Health Programs, Upstream USA, National Center for Lesbian Rights, National Partnership for Women & Families, Jewish Women International, Positive Women’s Network-USA, National Council of Jewish Women.

ICYMI: Last week, GOP members blocked the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act. Sen. Cantwell, a cosponsor of the legislation, joined Sen. Cortez Masto on the Senate floor to discuss the chilling effect this has on providers who see patients traveling from anti-choice states. Video of Sen. Cantwell’s floor remarks are HERE.

Earlier this month, Sen. Cantwell called on the U.S. Department of Justice to provide clarity on current law and potential federal actions to protect patients and providers at a press conference at UW Medical Center. At the press conference, Sen. Cantwell said, “With these new laws restricting rights, many states have concerns about our health care community and how they will continue to practice if those services are challenged by patients who traveled from states where abortion has been criminalized.”

Sen. Cantwell is also a co-sponsor of the My Body, My Data Act, which would create a new national standard to protect personal health care data by minimizing the personal data a company may collect, retain, disclose, or misuse. A summary of the bill is available HERE.

The Right to Contraception bill text is available HERE.

Video of Sen. Cantwell’s floor speech on the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act is available HERE, audio HERE, and a full transcript HERE.

Video of Sen. Cantwell’s press conference at UW Medicine is available HERE, audio HERE, and a full transcript HERE.