The Senate is set to vote on a bill that would protect access to contraception


WASHINGTON — The Senate will vote Wednesday on legislation that would protect access to contraception nationally, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced in a letter to colleagues on Sunday.

A vote on the bill, led by Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass., and Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, is an attempt to force Republicans to take a stand on a hot-button issue during an election year. Many Republican lawmakers have supported a wide range of abortion restrictions at the state level, and their Democratic colleagues have accused them of wanting to go further.

In the letter, Schumer called the June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade “one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of modern times.” The decision gave each state the ability to pass its own abortion rights or restrictions, invalidating national protections for the procedure.

“As heinous as these state abortion bans are, they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the impact of Republican attacks on reproductive freedom,” he wrote.

The legislation defines contraception as “any drug, device, or biological product intended for use in preventing pregnancy.”

While some Republicans may support the bill, most will likely vote against it, dismissing it as a political message. Republican senators have previously said Republicans support access to contraception, but they don’t believe legislation is needed at the federal level.

Former President Donald Trump said during an interview last month that he was open to restrictions on contraception, but he later walked back the statement, saying he “never has and never will support” such a policy.

The vote is also part of a larger battle for control of the Senate, which Democrats currently hold with a narrow 51-49 majority. Democratic incumbents are defending their seats in several competitive races this fall.

Other reproductive rights issues have been front and center in Congress as lawmakers look ahead to the November elections.

Senate Democrats tried to hold a vote earlier this year on legislation that would have protected a federal right to in vitro fertilization known as IVF, following an Alabama Supreme Court ruling that frozen embryos should be considered children. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., blocked the vote, arguing it was a “huge overreach” by the federal government over states.

The Republican Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Katie Britt of Alabama introduced their own legislation to protect the procedure by blocking Medicaid funding to states that issue a complete ban on IVF. When reporters asked about the bill, Schumer said, “We have a much better proposal and Republicans should support it.”

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