Sens. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Ed Markey (D-MA) on Tuesday demanded that their Republican colleagues go on record about whether they support the right to contraception, a day before Democrats are set to push the Right to Contraception Act through the upper chamber.
During a press conference on Tuesday, Hirono took aim at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling last month, which overturned Roe and with it the constitutional right to an abortion.
In his concurring opinion, Thomas said outright that the high court should revisit other landmark privacy-rights cases such as protections for same-sex marriage and contraception access.
“This is called signaling,” Hirono said, referring to Thomas’ concurring opinion. “When a far-right Supreme Court Justice, now in the majority, signals, we have to pay attention.”
After stressing that the public needs to realize that access to contraception is under threat, Hirono called on Republican senators to go on the record about where they stand on the issue.
“We need to put every single Republican on the record on whether they support the right to contraception and, indeed, the right to bodily autonomy,” Hirono said.
During the presser, Senate Health Committee chair Pat Murray (D-WA) also said the Democratic senators will try to get the bill on the floor through unanimous consent.
Markey said he expects Republicans to object to unanimous consent for the bill. He said that if a GOP senator does object, then that will signal to the country that Republicans intend on giving the conservative-majority Supreme Court permission to repeal the right to contraceptive care.
Markey then echoed Hirono’s demand, saying that the vote on the Senate floor will put Republicans on record about whether they support access to contraception.
Last week, the House voted 228-195 to codify federal protections for contraception access into law, with just eight Republicans joining Democrats on the issue. The bill, which protects the right to buy and use contraception without government interference, heads to the Senate next. According to a poll conducted by Gallup in May, a vast majority of Americans support access to contraceptive care, with 92 percent indicating they see contraception as “morally acceptable.”
It’s one of two bills that Democrats are pushing in light of Thomas’ concurring opinion on Dobbs, as Republicans continue to claim that the issues of contraception and same-sex marriage aren’t under threat. The House passed a bill to codify federal protections for same-sex and interracial marriage, in addition to a repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and a woman. 157 House Republicans voted against the measure.
But 47 Republicans did vote with Democrats, signaling that there might (emphasis on might) be higher support for the codification of marriage equality into law among GOPers than expected. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is working with Democrats to try to get at least the 10 Republicans needed on board with the legislation to overcome the filibuster.