WASHINGTON D.C. (Michigan News Source) – In a recent senate session, a measure aimed at safeguarding access to contraception faced a significant setback. The proposed bill, SB 4381, titled the “Right to Contraception Act,” sought to enshrine the right to contraception in federal law, ensuring individuals’ access to contraception and protecting healthcare providers’ ability to offer contraceptive services and information.

Measure to move contraceptive legislation forward fails in senate.

Despite efforts by Democratic senators, including Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow from Michigan, the vote taken in the senate on Wednesday, June 5th failed to garner enough support, with most Republicans opposing it. The measure was defeated with 51 votes in favor and 39 against. 60 votes were needed to pass the motion. Two Republicans crossed party lines to vote yes. They were Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski and Maine Senator Susan Collins.

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What exactly was the vote? It was a “test” vote of sorts – a motion to invoke cloture on the motion to proceed to the consideration of the bill. In other words, before the Senate can begin debating the content of a bill, they have to agree to take up the legislation in the first place – which didn’t happen in this case.

While Democrats rallied behind the legislation, emphasizing the importance of protecting reproductive freedoms, Republicans largely rejected it, viewing the measure as unnecessary and potentially overreaching. Many have also commented that it is being pushed as an issue for the Democrats to run on for the November elections as they work to keep control of the senate.

Senate majority leader pushes back on republicans who are blocking the legislation.

Majority Leader and Democrat Chuck Schumer said after the vote failed to advance, “Today was not a show vote. This was a show us who you are vote. And Senate Republicans showed the American people exactly who they are.” He added, “In the coming weeks, Senate Democrats will put reproductive freedoms front and center before this chamber so that the American people can see for themselves who will stand up to defend their fundamental liberties.”

For Senate Democrats, the Right to Contraception Act represents a crucial response to concerns raised by the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down federal abortion rights in 2022. Fearing further erosion of reproductive rights in the states, Democrats have pushed for proactive measures to safeguard access to contraception. However, Republican opposition, coupled with the legislative hurdles inherent in the Senate’s procedural rules, have thwarted their efforts.

President Biden speaks out.

President Biden said about the bill’s failure, “Senate Republicans just refused to protect a woman’s right to birth control. This is the second time since the Supreme Court’s extreme decision to overturn Roe v. Wade that congressional Republicans have refused to safeguard this fundamental right for women in every state. It’s unacceptable.”

Republicans have their say.

Senator Katie Britt, an Alabama Republican, said, “This is continuing the campaign of fear mongering we’ve already seen. Contraception is available in every state across the nation. The goal of my Democratic colleagues right now is to scare the American people, to scare women across our great nation. It’s not that they believe that there’s a problem they’re truly trying to solve. They’re prioritizing their own short-term partisan political interest.”’

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Senator Joni Ernst, an Iowa Republican, says the bill goes “far beyond the scope of providing access to contraception,” and that it creates a precedent to “mandate access to abortion drugs for women and girls of all ages.”

What Michigan lawmakers are saying.

In Michigan, Senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow voiced their disappointment over the bill’s failure. Senator Gary Peters said on X that “Every woman deserves to be able to access essential reproductive care.”

He went on to say to the media about why the vote happened even though most knew it wouldn’t be successful, “It’s important for people to know where people are on the issues that they care about. So that’s what these votes are all about.”

Senator Debbie Stabenow said in a statement, “Once again, Republicans blocked a bill to protect women’s reproductive freedoms. Since the fall of Roe, Republicans have continued their assault on our reproductive freedoms, including attacking access to contraception. I voted for the Right to Contraception Act today because birth control is a key part of women’s health care. It’s a personal decision that is between women and their doctors, not right-wing lawmakers and judges. Period.”

The Michigan Democratic Party also chimed in about the vote, with Chair of the party, Lavora Barnes, issuing a statement, saying, “The right to contraception is essential to our bodily autonomy, but today, Republicans in Congress chose Donald Trump’s crusade against reproductive freedom over the well- being of women everywhere. Yet again, we see that Trump and his MAGA Republican followers were never going to stop after destroying Roe v. Wade – they will do whatever it takes to rip away reproductive health care in all 50 states, even here in Michigan.”

Barnes went on to say, “Michiganders deserve equitable access to contraception so we can take care of our health and make our own decisions about our bodies, our lives, and our futures. Extremist Republicans are waging war on sexual and reproductive health care, and it’s more important than ever to protect contraception and bodily autonomy for all Michiganders. To do that, we must reelect President Biden and Democrats up and down the ballot in November so that they can continue to fight for reproductive freedom.”

The fight will go on.

With their candidate, President Joe Biden, trailing in many polls, the Democrats are grabbing onto reproductive rights once again as a pivotal issue in the lead-up to the November election. Emboldened by the success of reproductive rights advocacy in the past and mobilizing voters to the polls, especially at a state level, the Democrats remain undeterred in their commitment to advancing the issue despite the bill’s defeat.