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Congress passes “Right to Contraception Act”


Win McNamee | Getty Images | AFP

John Burger - published on 07/22/22

Afraid that Supreme Court will erode more rights, Democrats seek to codify past rulings like Griswold v. Connecticut.

Yes, the Catholic Church still teaches that using contraception is wrong, and this week it had an opportunity to remind the world why.

No, the Church is not expecting every American to live as Catholic married couples are supposed to, but it did not hesitate to share some of its teachings with members of Congress, who were considering a law to keep contraception legal.

The bill, the Right to Contraception Act, passed in the House of Representatives Thursday by a largely party-line vote of 228-195. 

H.R. 8373 was one of a series of bills Democrats introduced in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 24 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson, which overturned Roe v. Wade. Although Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing the majority opinion, said that that ruling would not affect other rights established by the court, Justice Clarence Thomas, in a concurring opinion, said that the court ought to reconsider its reasoning in a number of cases, including the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut decision that found that married couples have a right to buy and use contraception. 

Fearing that the court’s decision that there is no constitutional right to abortion will be followed by similar rulings regarding contraception and same-sex marriage, Democrats in Congress set about codifying such rights in federal law. A same-sex marriage bill easily passed the House on Tuesday but, like the contraception bill, it faces an uphill battle in the Senate. 

Some observers believe the Democrats’ efforts are more for political reasons than truly trying to protect people’s rights – to get legislators on the record as a midterm election approaches.

Nevertheless, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter to legislators, urging a no vote on both bills. Regarding the Right to Contraception bill, the letter said that the Church teaches that contraception diminishes respect for the dignity of the human person. Multiple studies, it said, suggest that contraception can be harmful to women’s health and well-being and does not lead to fewer abortions.

“In addition to these inherent harms, the Right to Contraception Act, H.R. 8373, would dramatically alter the landscape of informed consent laws and conscience protections around contraception, including abortion-causing drugs,” said the letter, signed by Archbishops William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Salvatore J. Cordileone, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. “H.R. 8373 would render invalid informed consent laws, waiting periods, and other federal and state laws and regulations applicable to patients, including minors, with respect to sterilization and contraceptives, including emergency contraception and contraceptives that can cause early abortions.”

The bill also renders the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) inapplicable as to those items and would invalidate conscience protections on the basis that they impede access to these products and procedures, the letter stated.

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