Contraception and "Our" Representative
Lies and twisted words to avoid commitment
In 1965 in Griswold v. Connecticut the U.S. Supreme Court, based largely on a “right to privacy” rooted in the due process clause of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, ruled that married couples in the U.S. are guaranteed the liberty to buy and use contraceptives without federal or state government restriction. The Griswold decision struck down a Connecticut State law that prohibited any person from using "any drug, medicinal article or instrument for the purpose of preventing conception". Most of us today can barely imagine a state in which it was illegal to buy and use contraception—but so it was. Before Griswold there was a hodgepodge of federal and state laws known as the “Comstock laws,” some of which went so far as to make it a crime even to pass along information about contraception (First Amendment violation, anyone?). (Note that the bulk of these laws were voted into place by men before women acquired the right to vote under the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920.)
The right to privacy, upon which the constitutional logic of Griswold depends, was just thrown out by the rightwing U.S. Supreme Court majority in the recent Dobbs decision. In his concurring opinion Justice Thomas could hardly conceal his delight at the prospect of “revisiting” Griswold now that the Court has declared that no constitutional right to privacy exists.
Having gleefully trashed the constitutional right to privacy upon which we have relied for half a century, one might hope that even Republicans might move swiftly to reassure us that the government will still somehow be kept out of our bedrooms and out of our other of most intimate decisions. On the contrary, they have voted overwhelmingly against all attempts to federally codify any of these rights. (See P.S.)
“Our” eastern Washington Representative to the U.S. House, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, rose to speak on the floor of the House against H.R. 8373, the Contraception Access Bill. As standard bearer of Republican catch-phrases, McMorris Rodgers did not disappoint.
Read the actual text of H.R. 8373, where we find the bill’s definition of contraception, that which the law means to protect:
(1) CONTRACEPTION.—The term “contraception” means an action taken to prevent pregnancy, including the use of contraceptives or fertility-awareness based methods, and sterilization procedures.
I don’t know how the definition could be more clear.
In her floor speech McMorris Rodgers first whines that Democrats didn’t “work with her” in drafting of the bill. Was she denied input from the floor? Was she prevented from casting a vote on amendments? Then she breathlessly declares that the bill “opens the door further to extreme abortion on demand and their [Democrats] agenda”. She invokes Planned Parenthood and claims, without evidence, that the bill allows “...drugs to be used for abortions without restrictions.” She whines that Democrats provided a definition of contraception that is “not limited to FDA approved products”. A true statement, but totally off-point: fertility-awareness methods certainly do not require any approval from the FDA. She rambles on to a claim that the bill would require “the Little Sisters of the Poor” to violate their religion and provide contraception. Pure horse manure. McMorris Rodgers is fully aware (and later says) that these “Little Sisters” already have a litigated and acknowledged constitutional right to refuse, a fact that makes any supposed “requirement” entirely moot. She reaches her crescendo with:
“Democrats are conflating the issues of abortion and contraception to promote unrestricted abortion for all nine months of pregnancy! Contraception is fundamentally different than abortion!”
McMorris Rodgers’ own conflation of contraception with abortion and her invocation of every anti-abortion buzz phrase she knows to explain why she opposes contraception is a shameless display of political poppycock.
In this spectacle on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives I see a woman devoid of intellectual honesty using dishonest, manipulative, anti-abortion catch phrases to excuse herself and her Republican compatriots from voting to safeguard access to contraception. Furthermore, given her Fundamentalist belief system, her devotion to Republicanism as a team sport, and her prior lack of direct sponsorship of any significant bills, I have zero confidence that she will make good on her claim that she will move to codify access to contraception.
Words are cheap. Legislative action requires a level of initiative, commitment, and collegial cajoling I cannot remember McMorris Rodgers ever demonstrating.
Vote her out of office before she further trashes our rights.
Keep to the high ground,
P.S. Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives promptly voted “Nay” nearly en masse to all efforts to federally protect any of the rights once based on the right to privacy. Heather Cox Richardson offered a tally. McMorris Rodgers cast a “Nay” vote on all four bills:
In the House, Republicans voted against federal protection of an individual’s right to choose whether to continue or end a pregnancy and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide abortion services: 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 99% of House Republicans. [H.R. 8296]
They voted against the right to use contraception: 195 out of 209 Republicans voted no; 2 didn’t vote. That’s 96% of House Republicans. [H.R. 8373]
They voted against marriage equality: 157 out of 204 Republicans voted no; 7 didn’t vote. That’s 77% of House Republicans. [H.R. 8404]
They voted against a bill guaranteeing a woman’s right to travel across state lines to obtain abortion services: 205 out of 208 Republicans voted no; 3 didn’t vote. That’s 97% of House Republicans. [H.R. 8297]
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