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Arizona Republicans Refuse to Advance Bills Protecting Access to Contraception

Arizona Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs called the proposal to protect access to contraception a “common sense” idea.

Katie Hobbs looks on during a campaign stop on November 4, 2022, in Phoenix, Arizona.

Republicans in the Arizona state legislature have blocked Democratic efforts to get a hearing on bills to protect access to contraception in the state, with one GOP leader using sex-shaming language to suggest the measure was unnecessary.

Two bills with identical language were submitted for consideration, one in the state House of Representatives and the other in the state Senate. The bills would enact a law affirming the right to obtain “any drug, device or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy.”

The legislation is in limbo, however, as Republicans are refusing to assign the bills to a legislative committee for consideration and blocking efforts at holding hearings on them.

To highlight the Republicans’ refusal to consider the bills, the Democratic sponsors of the proposals — Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton and state Sen. Priya Sundareshan — held a press conference last week alongside Democratic Gov. Katie Hobbs, blasting the GOP for their obstructionist efforts.

“While members of the legislative majority continue to use their offices to push political divisive bills, this basic, common-sense proposal hasn’t made it past Step One,” Hobbs said during that press briefing.

The refusal to place the bill for a committee is “cowardly,” Sundareshan said.

“Our bodies do not belong to the government,” Stahl Hamilton added.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli responded to the Democrats’ complaints, claiming that “nobody’s proposing any kind of plan to ban contraceptives.”

Borrelli also used sexist and sex-shaming language to suggest that those concerned about reproductive rights use an alternative method to ensure they don’t get pregnant.

“The Bayer Company invented aspirin. Put it between your knees,” he said to The Arizona Mirror.

Borrelli is errant in stating that contraceptives aren’t under threat — several GOP-led states are considering bills that would limit a number of birth control methods, and far right organizations are also pushing for restrictions.

Experts have said that even the constitutional guarantee to contraceptives, enshrined in the 1965 Supreme Court decision Griswold v. Connecticut, is at risk of being overturned; Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurring opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision upending abortion rights that other judgments made based on a right to privacy (which includes Griswold) should be reconsidered.

Responding to Borrelli’s comments, and the fact that the Arizona state Supreme Court is currently considering re-implementing an 1864 territorial ban on abortion, Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts said in a recent column that the Republican lawmaker’s words were far from encouraging.

“Color me not so reassured by Borrelli’s assurance that a woman’s right to have children at a time of her choosing is not at risk by the far-right fringe that has taken over the Republican Party,” Roberts said.

Several states do have laws or state constitutional amendments on the books protecting the right to contraceptives, with some states passing those protections in the wake of the Dobbs ruling. In California, Michigan and Vermont, for example, voters passed ballot initiatives enshrining those rights into their respective constitutions in the November 2022 elections, just months after the Court ruled on Dobbs. Overall, 13 states have either a law or amendment that protects the right to access contraceptives.

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