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

Legislation would guarantee access to birth control currently under threat in some states

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) joined 33 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,” Sen. Cantwell said. “I will continue to defend women’s right to privacy and choice in light of these attacks.”

The lawmakers first introduced the legislation last July in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s alarming concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (the case which overturned Roe v. Wade)  which urged the Court to “reconsider” its substantive due process precedents, including Griswold.

After the reversal of Roe v. Wade, many conservative states introduced legislation to ban or limit access to contraceptives, including Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs).  Moreover, 12 states have prohibited state family planning funds from going to entities that provide abortions, making it harder for organizations like Planned Parenthood to even distribute contraception.

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.

Since last year’s leaked draft opinion indicated the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn the reproductive care precedent established under Roe v. Wade, Sen. Cantwell has been focused on protecting abortion access and choice for women across the country. In July 2022, following a meeting with health care providers at the University of Washington Medical Center, Sen. Cantwell cosponsored the Freedom to Travel for Health Care Act to ban anti-choice states from penalizing or prosecuting health care providers that offer reproductive services in states where abortion care is legal.

In March 2023, Sen. Cantwell joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) in reintroducing the Women’s Health Protection Act and hosting a roundtable discussion on the path forward to defend Americans’ reproductive rights. In April, Sen. Cantwell joined hundreds of her Democratic colleagues in filing amicus briefs before the U.S. Supreme Court and Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals supporting the Biden Administration’s appeals of Texas federal district court and Fifth Circuit rulings which would restrict availability to mifepristone. The Supreme Court agreed to a stay, permitting the safe and legal drug to remain available for the time being, but the litigation is still pending in the lower courts. Also in April, Sen. Cantwell joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 25 other colleagues in introducing the Let Doctors Provide Reproductive Health Care Act, which would ban anti-choice states from restricting or preventing health care providers from performing legal abortions.  Last month, Sen. Cantwell joined 12 Senate colleagues in reintroducing the My Body, My Data Act to protect personal reproductive health data. Also last month, Sen. Cantwell joined 29 Senate colleagues to introduce the Protecting Service Members and Military Families’ Access to Health Care Act, legislation that would codify the Department of Defense’s policy to ensure service members and their families can access non-covered reproductive health care – including abortion services – regardless of the state in which they are stationed.

The Right to Contraception bill text is available HERE.