Birth Control

Arizona Republicans Refuse To Even Consider Basic Birth Control Protections

After committees refused to take up two bills that would enshrine access to contraceptives into state law, Arizona Republicans on Wednesday blocked Hail Mary Democrats’ efforts to force a hearing on the legislation.

Each considered the Right to Contraception Act, parallel bills in the state House and Senate that would guarantee Arizonans access to “any drug, device or biological product intended for use in preventing pregnancy, ” including Plan B emergency contraceptives.

Democrats say such defenses are necessary in the wake of the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, which emboldened Republicans to seek a range of reproductive protections.

But Republicans, who have single-seat majorities in each chamber, have refused to assign the bills to any committee, preventing them from progressing or even getting a hearing on either chamber floor. So on Wednesday, Democrats led a vote to change the rules of each chamber and allow them to bring the bills to an immediate vote. Every single Republican voted against the amendment.

While he voted in favor of the rule change, Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, sponsor of the House version of the bill, said she felt she was running out of options.

“I’ve been here for four sessions … and not once have any of my bills been heard in committee or reach the floor,” he said, adding, “The subject of this bill is so important that I believe it deserves a hearing. . It’s a topic that’s relevant, it’s a topic that deserves robust conversation, and it’s a topic that most people in Arizona support.

Stahl Hamilton had to be careful not to mention the words “contraceptive” or “abortion,” as House leadership warned him he would “immediately pass out” if he did, Arizona House Democrats mentioned in a post on X.

Democratic state Sen. Priya Sundareshan, the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said Arizonans should not be satisfied with Republicans’ assertions that access to contraception is not yet on the chopping block ―.

“Make no mistake, if Arizona Republicans retain control of the legislature, Arizonans will remain under threat of losing access to the full range of reproductive health care, from contraception to abortion to IVF,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) warned Thursday that Arizonans will remember this when they head to the polls in November.

“First, abortion, then IVF, now, they refuse to protect contraceptives. It was never about family planning – it was 100% about control and power,” said DLCC president Heather Williams. “Arizonas and the rest of the country deserve leaders who fight for their full range of rights, not those who work in lockstep to block them.”

Republicans were largely silent on the effort Wednesday, with only House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci addressing it on the floor.

“There are processes and ways to get bills through the House,” the Republican said.

But Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli dismissed the need for the legislation in comments on The Arizona Mirror last week.

“They’re creating a controversy that doesn’t exist,” he said, adding, “No one has any kind of plan to ban any contraceptives.”

But in another comment, Borrelli revealed what he really thinks about people who rely on contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

“Like I said, the Bayer Company invented aspirin. Put it between your knees,” he said, seeming to suggest avoidance.

He appears to be channeling a 14-year-old statement from the late Foster Friess, once a major Republican party donor. In 2012, Friess rattled off the same head-scratching line during an appearance on MSNBC.

“In my time, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly,” he said. He later apologized for the comments, saying it was a joke and that he didn’t really believe that was a “prescription for today’s birth control practices.”

Borrelli did not offer the same apology. When asked by HuffPost if, like Friess, she was joking, she said she considered the suggestion “her grandmother’s advice to my sisters.” In a follow-up email he reiterated: “There are no talks or plans to BAN any contraceptives.”

It may be true that Arizona’s current legislative body isn’t weighing a ban on contraceptives, but it’s not an outlandish thing that Democrats are hoping for. A few weeks ago, Missouri Republicans changed their efforts to block Medicaid from covering Plan B and intrauterine devices, known as IUDs. Last year, Iowa’s attorney general suspended a program that covers emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault. And despite assurances like those coming from Borrelli, Republicans in Arizona and more refuse to legally protect access to contraception.

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