Cantwell on Anti-Choice Activists Coming For Birth Control: “They’re Not Done.”

Cantwell delivers floor speech before vote to codify right to contraception into federal law & joins Schumer for press conference after; Bill receives majority vote, but falls short of 60 votes needed to advance; Reproductive care in pro- and anti-choice states is interconnected; UW study found 50% spike in abortions performed for out-of-state patients in WA since Dobbs decision

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) addressed her colleagues on the Senate floor before a vote on the Right to Contraception Act, which would guarantee the right for people to obtain and use contraceptives and for health providers to prescribe contraceptives without government interference. Sen. Cantwell is a cosponsor of the bill.

In Idaho recently, they banned abortion. Now several of the state’s colleges have banned their staff from even speaking to students about contraception. Imagine college students in the dark about something as basic as a health care service,” Sen. Cantwell said. “In Virginia, people still have abortion rights, but the governor chose to veto a bill to protect and expand birth control access just hours before the deadline. So yes -- they're not done.”

The vote, which required 60 votes to advance the bill, failed 51-39.

Last week, the University of Washington released a study indicating that Washington state’s abortion providers have performed 50% more abortions for patients traveling in from other states. The study also found that all patients in Washington – regardless of whether they’re traveling in from anti-choice states -- are getting abortions approximately one week later, compared to before the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned the protections established by Roe v. Wade.

“If you think about it, if you've seen a 50% increase in out-of-state patients, that means you're seeing more patients,” said Sen. Cantwell during her floor speech. “What is the effect of seeing more patients?”

“Washington saw the largest increase in patients from those states who had banned abortion states like Texas and Idaho, Louisiana, and Florida,” Sen. Cantwell continued. “Now imagine if they carry this further and ban contraception too. Our state doesn't want to be impacted in the delivery of care. It wants people to be able to see a physician when they need to see a physician, get the care when they need to get the care.”

Sen. Cantwell first joined her colleagues to introduce the legislation in July 2022, in the wake of Justice Clarence Thomas’s alarming concurring opinion in Dobbs which urged the Court to “reconsider” its substantive due process precedents -- including Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the right to contraception nearly 60 years ago.

The Right to Contraception Act would protect against extremist 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.

Sen. Cantwell continues to fight hard to defend reproductive freedom in Washington state and nationwide. A full timeline of her actions since a draft of the Dobbs decision was leaked in spring 2022, making clear the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn the longstanding reproductive care precedent established by Roe v. Wade, is available HERE.

Video of the full floor speech is available HERE, audio HERE, and a transcript HERE.

Video of the post-vote press conference is available HERE, audio HERE, and a transcript of Sen. Cantwell’s remarks HERE.