Thursday, June 6, 2024

The Right to Contraception Act fails in the U.S. Senate


Senate rejects ‘Trojan horse’ Right to Contraception Act

The U.S. Senate has rejected the “Right to Contraception Act,” which would create a federal right to contraception with ramifications on religious freedom and protections for minors. 

The legislation failed to reach the 60 votes it needed to move forward, in a 51 to 39 vote. Most Republicans voted against the bill.

Framed as a reproductive freedom issue by supporters, the bill had legal implications that could have affected religious freedom and even codified a federal right to sex-change surgeries for minors, according to its opponents. 

Terry Schilling, a Catholic and president of the socially conservative think tank American Principles Project, condemned the legislation in a statement, saying that “in the details lurks a radical change, which the vast majority of Americans oppose.”

Schilling called the act “a Trojan horse for a very sinister aim: establish in federal law a right for minors to undergo sterilizing sex-change procedures.”

The bill defined contraceptives broadly to include sterilizing drugs, both those “specifically intended to prevent pregnancy or for other health needs.” Schilling said, quoting the bill in a post on X. This could lead to the repeal of any state laws protecting minors from sex-changing surgeries, he argued. 

“While Democrats will of course deny this, the opening in the text is plain as day,” Schilling added in his statement. “And all it will take is one far-left judge to interpret it this way for every state-level protection for gender-confused kids to be completely wiped out.” 

Montana Senator Steve Daines told EWTN News Capitol Hill correspondent Erik Rosales that the measure was an election year “stunt.” 

Republican Senator Ted Budd of North Carolina agreed, saying of the Senate's Democratic majority “They're just trying to make an issue of something that is not even an issue. There's no states that are out there that are trying to ban contraception, so I just think it's an election year stunt; it’s poor form, it’s poor politics."

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in his Wednesday speech in support of the bill that it is “utterly unacceptable for Americans to even question whether or not access to birth control should fall at risk.”

“Today, we live in a country where not only tens of millions of women have been robbed of their reproductive freedoms,” he continued. “We also live in a country where tens of millions more worry about something as basic as birth control. That’s utterly medieval.” 

But some politicians opposed the bill out of a concern for religious freedom for those whose faith teaches that contraception is immoral. 

Sen. Katie Britt, R-Alabama, spoke out against the bill, calling it a continuation of the Democrats’ “summer of scare tactics” in a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday.

“Once again, the bill tramples on foundational religious liberty protections that have long been bipartisan — and truly should remain bipartisan,” Britt said in a speech where she emphasized that she supports access to contraception. 

“The goal of my Democrat colleagues right now is to scare the American people, to scare women across our great nation,” she added.

While most Americans — 88% according to a 2023 Gallup poll — believe birth control is morally acceptable, the Catholic Church has been consistent in its teaching against any form of contraception. This has already led to legal conflict, most predominantly in the decadelong religious liberty battle fought by the Little Sisters of the Poor. 

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