Lawmakers Struggle To Reach Agreement on Major Issue

Lawmakers Struggle To Reach Agreement on Major Issue

( – Republican Senator Joni Ernst (IA) has vocally fought the accusations suggesting her GOP colleagues are against birth control. She pointed out that she introduced S4638, Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act, to provide women with more over-the-counter (OTC) birth control options while increasing transparency on how the government spends taxpayer dollars.

Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-IA) introduced a companion bill, HR8428, in the House that mirrors Ernst’s bill. The lawmakers initially introduced both measures in 2022, but they have stalled in committees since then. However, in light of what Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) called Democratic “fearmongering” on the issue of contraception, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) pushed for a Wednesday, June 5, vote on S4381, the Right to Contraception Act introduced by Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).

Scott and 21 other Republican senators signed a statement on Tuesday, ahead of the vote, pointing out that Americans already had access to contraception in every state by law. They stated their concerns that Markey’s bill would force religious institutions and public schools to offer contraception to minors, infringing on parental rights and faith-based freedoms. Moreover, the group said they believed their Democratic counterparts were using the issue as a wedge “to score cheap political points.”

Several influential GOP senators, including Shelley Capito (R-WV), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Rand Paul (R-KY), supported Ernst’s measure. The junior Iowa senator argued that her legislation would provide more options for women while protecting unborn lives.

It would require the FDA to prioritize pharmaceutical application reviews requesting the conversion of routinely prescribed daily-use contraceptives to OTC drugs that individuals could access without prescriptions. Emergency contraceptives and abortifacients wouldn’t qualify to apply for the new category.

Conservative lawmakers defeated Markey’s legislation from moving forward on Wednesday when it failed to garner the required minimum of 60 votes. Even though GOP Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) broke ranks and voted with Democrats, the measure failed with a 51 to 39 vote. The bill proposed legally structuring consumers’ ability to obtain contraceptives and providers’ ability to dispense them as rights that state and federal laws could not infringe.

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