Senator J.D. Vance denied that Republicans are trying to restrict access to birth control, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. The senator claimed he doesn’t know “any Republican, at least not a Republican with a brain, that’s trying to take those rights away from people.”
The topic came up during Vance’s appearance Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union after host Jake Tapper asked about the Texas Supreme Court blocking a woman from obtaining an abortion even though her fetus has a fatal genetic condition. Vance said that the GOP has to “accept that people do not want blanket abortion bans. They just don’t.” He added that there should be exceptions “for the life of the mother, for rape, and so forth.”
Vance did not say, however, whether the current situation in Texas would merit an exception. “I want to protect as many unborn babies as possible. I also think we have to win the trust back of the American people. And one of the ways to do that is to be the truly pro-family party. I think we are. We have got to carry that message forward and actually enact some public policy to that effect.”
JD Vance on CNN on birth control: "I don't think that I know any Republican, at least not a Republican with a brain, that's trying to take those rights again from people."
Jake Tapper replies, "I mean, I could provide a list for you if you want it." pic.twitter.com/s0KuDJlICL
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 10, 2023
This prompted Tapper to ask, “Is birth control part of that policy, empowering women to be able to make those decisions before they get pregnant?”
“Look, obviously, people need to be able to make those decisions,” Vance said. “I don’t think that I know any Republican, at least not a Republican with a brain, that’s trying to take those rights away from people.”
In response, Jake Tapper said, “I mean, I could provide a list for you if you want it.”
“Well, OK. Not anybody I talk to, Jake,” Vance said.
So here’s a list.
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.)
In the top spot is current GOP House Speaker Mike Johnson, who — as Rolling Stone’s Tessa Stuart reported — has engaged in a lengthy campaign against birth control both in Congress and outside of it. Johnson has argued (incorrectly) that certain kinds of birth control actually are methods of abortion. “The morning after pill, as we know, is an abortifacient,” he said last month.
When working as an attorney, Johnson contributed to cases where plaintiffs refused to dispense emergency contraception. In office, Johnson has cast multiple votes against efforts to make birth control and other methods of family planning more accessible, affordable, or protected.
Next on the list are all but 10 Republicans in the House who voted against codifying the right to contraceptives into law in July 2022.
While in office, Donald Trump — who enthusiastically campaigned for Vance to win a Senate seat — carved out exceptions for employers to an Obamacare requirement that mandated insurance plans cover contraception as part of preventative care.
Republican Lawmakers in Idaho and Missouri
On the state level, Republicans have tried to conflate abortion and birth control by arguing that some contraceptives, such as Plan B and intrauterine devices (IUDs), are “abortifacients,” even though that is untrue. Plan B prevents pregnancy and is taken long before implantation. According to the Food and Drug Administration, “Evidence does not support that the drug affects implantation or maintenance of a pregnancy after implantation, therefore it does not terminate a pregnancy.”
IUDs are also not an abortifacient. As the Kaiser Family Foundation says, “IUDs do not affect an established pregnancy and do not act as an abortifacient.”
In 2021, Idaho passed the No Public Funds for Abortion Act, which prohibits state-funded student health centers from dispensing emergency contraceptives such as Plan B. The bill also prevents state-funded student health centers from counseling patients on abortion.
That same year, Missouri Republicans tried to forward a bill to ban the state’s Medicaid program from paying for IUDs and emergency contraception. “Anything that destroys that life is abortion, it’s not birth control,” the bill’s sponsor said.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas
Even ultra conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has called for a war on birth control access. In a concurring opinion in the Dobbs decision that reversed federal abortion protections, Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergfell.” Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) established protections for married couples purchasing contraception.
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