After the House passed a bill to protect contraception access across the country with only eight Republican votes on Thursday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York) criticized the GOP, saying that the vote is proof of how far right the party has moved.
The vast majority of the Republican caucus – 195 members – voted against passing the bill, which would bar states from implementing laws restricting access to contraceptives like IUDs, birth control pills and Plan B, the emergency contraceptive.
Ocasio-Cortez wrote after the vote that the bill was “not a ‘gotcha’ bill with a bunch of stuff,” but “was pretty straightforward,” meaning that Republicans were just voting to allow states to restrict contraceptive access if the Supreme Court overturns Griswold v. Connecticut during its next term.
“OK, so not only do Republicans want to institute a federal ban on abortion, but today 195 of them voted against codifying the right to contraception,” Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter. “Only 8 voted yes.”
The lawmaker also took to Instagram to discuss the vote. “This is why it’s also key to preserve the House majority,” she wrote. “GOP are descending into an extremism that many didn’t think was real. They are expanding to attack the right to contraception, and we cannot let them. This vote is the first step.” She said that Democrats’ next move should be to force a vote on the bill in the Senate, where it’s currently unclear whether or not the proposal has enough support to overcome a 60-vote filibuster.
In his concurring opinion on the Supreme Court’s extremist decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas said that with abortion rights no longer guaranteed, the Court should also reconsider other crucial precedents. He then went on to list past Supreme Court rulings establishing the right to gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges), the right of same-sex couples to engage in consensual sex (Lawrence v. Texas), and the right to contraceptive access (Griswold v. Connecticut).
Ocasio-Cortez said that the vote showed that Republicans agree with Thomas on the issue of contraception. She added that, while conservatives have claimed that their opposition to the bill is based on the many extra provisions added on to the bill, her followers can “fact check” those claims by reading the bill, which is straightforward and narrow.
Indeed, the 14-page text of the bill affirms that people should have the right to choose whether or not they use contraceptives, prohibits state or local bans on contraception and allows the Justice Department and health care providers to take legal action against lawmakers attempting to restrict access to contraception. There is very little mention of topics outside of contraceptive access other than abortion and forced birth.
The New York progressive said that, while some bills often have extra provisions and amendments tacked on, sometimes lawmakers hide behind that to obscure the fact that they actually oppose whatever is being passed.
“100 percent of the time if a Rep says they voted no ‘because of extra stuff,’ they should be able to name the SPECIFIC provision that caused them to vote no,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote. “If they can’t name what they SPECIFICALLY object to then it’s probably an excuse or cover. THIS bill, however, is rather straightforward and doesn’t have extra bells, whistles and/or loopholes.”
She encouraged followers to watch the debate on the bill themselves to look for the reasons that Republicans claimed they opposed the bill, and then fact check their claims.
Other Democratic lawmakers also expressed frustration and horror that the vast majority of Republicans in the House voted against the bill. “It’s 2022 and 195 Republicans just voted AGAINST protecting access to contraception. No right to birth control. Abortion bans. Never-ending forced pregnancy with no paid leave or free child care,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D-California). “Everyone should be alarmed by this radical agenda.”