Another ‘no’ from JHB on bill to codify protected rights

The U.S. House has observed multiple legislative moves recently to protect vulnerable rights after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June, including the codification of a person’s right to contraception.

The Right to Contraception Act, passed Thursday, affirms an individual’s ability to access contraceptives while also ensuring health providers can prescribe them; those who restrict access to contraceptives can be penalized. House members remained within party lines, as the bill passed 228-195. Eight Republicans joined all 220 Democrats – Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was not one of them.

“I support preserving Americans’ access to contraception and am backing legislation that prevents states from banning FDA-approved contraception, and speeds up federal approval for over the counter, oral contraception options for routine use,” the congresswoman wrote in a statement to The Columbian. “What I cannot support is legislation like the bill put before the House today that could encourage dangerous off-label use of certain drugs to terminate pregnancies and force religious institutions to violate their beliefs.”

House Republicans were concerned that the bill could infringe moral protection laws, including the Religious Restoration Freedom Act of 1993. The legislation prohibits the government from “substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”

Conversely, Washington State Democrats wrote in a release that the Right to Contraception Act is vital in securing individuals’ intrinsic freedoms, especially as the right to an abortion was hindered after Dobbs v. Jackson.

Herrera Beutler added that the legislation should have been examined by the committees and improved accordingly. She said the contraception bill has no teeth in the Senate, as it may not receive enough votes to break a Republican filibuster.

Lauren Ellenbecker

Lauren Ellenbecker

Lauren Ellenbecker is a politics reporter for The Columbian.

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