The right to contraception is a longstanding freedom that has allowed Americans to make our own decisions about our health. However, this right is currently under threat, from Supreme Court Justice Thomas, and state legislators across America. It’s time to codify the right to contraception in law.
That’s why last month, Americans for Contraception partnered with Gov. Katie Hobbs and others to unveil Arizona’s Right to Contraception Act. The bill would codify the right to contraception into state law, ensuring that Arizonans have the right to make their own decisions about their health. Governor Hobbs publicly endorsed the bill and rightly called out “attacks on reproductive freedoms and basic health care” and made it clear that legislators who attempt to take away reproductive rights will face her veto pen.
As the mother of a young adult daughter, I am committed to protecting the right to contraception so that every American has the peace of mind that access to birth control will be protected.
Contraception is essential for individual privacy, health, well-being, career growth and participation in our nation’s social and economic life. It is also crucial for preventing and treating various medical conditions like endometritis, iron deficiency, ovarian cancer and other cancers.
While Democrats in Arizona may currently be the ones leading the charge to protect these rights, access to contraception is not a partisan issue, as evidenced by poll after poll after poll showing that Americans support contraception by a whopping 90% to 10% margin.
The disconnect between politicians on the far right and the electorate on contraception is enormous. Unlike the extremists, voters across the political spectrum recognize that the right to contraception is a crucial part of ensuring reproductive freedom and economic security for all individuals.
The need for legislation has never been greater as the threats to the right to contraception continue to mount. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has explicitly called for overturning the Griswold ruling that established the right to contraception. Right-wing lawmakers and their right-wing allies from groups like Susan B. Anthony and elsewhere at the federal and state levels have actively lobbied against legislation like the Right to Contraception Act.
Last year, 195 House Republicans, including U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs, Paul Gosar, Debbie Lesko, and David Schweikert voted against the “Right to Contraception Act” that guarantees the right to basic contraception – like the pill, IUDs, and condoms.The bipartisan bill was intended to enshrine the right to contraception into federal law and thus stop future courts from taking away the right to contraception from Americans. Senate Republicans proceeded to block all action in the Senate. They did so again, in June. Meanwhile, state lawmakers across the country have introduced legislation that could ban common forms of birth control, including IUDs.
Sadly, these politicians continually demonstrate they care more about pleasing their extremist base than protecting the American people’s right and freedom to contraception.
Every Arizonan deserves the freedom to use contraception when they need it and the assurance that the government will never take that right away. Simply expanding access is not enough. Unless we codify the right to contraception into law, access can be taken away at any time.
Currently, all that protects the right to contraception (e.g. birth control pills, IUDs, and condoms) are U.S. Supreme Court decisions, which can be overturned just like other longstanding rulings. If the Supreme Court strikes down the right to contraception, and Arizona doesn’t have it enshrined in law, all Arizonans are at risk.
We cannot afford to leave such a fundamental right to the whims of a far-right court, or sit on the sidelines as extremists attempt to legislate their way into the doctor’s office.
We must act now and demand our elected leaders throughout Arizona listen to their constituents and the 90% of Americans in favor of contraception and pass the Right to Contraception Act at the state and federal levels. We must pressure Reps. Biggs, Gosar, Lesko, and Schweikert to finally do the right thing by coming out in support of the federal Right to Contraception Act and demand that Speaker Kevin McCarthy bring the legislation back up in Congress.
By demanding action on the federal level and passing the Right to Contraception Act in Arizona, we can ensure that this essential right is protected for generations to come.
Kirsten Engel is a former state senator from Tucson.