The three Republican congressmen in Washington on Thursday voted against legislation designed to protect access to contraceptives across the country, just two days after two of the three voted against a law protecting same-sex marriage.
Democrats brought up the vote on high-profile social issues they say may be attacked after the Supreme Court overturned abortion rights. Republicans said the votes were rushed for election-year messaging purposes.
All seven Democratic congressmen in Washington voted yes to both same-sex marriage and contraceptive access bills.
Both bills have passed the House of Representatives but face an uncertain future in the Senate.
Republican congressmen Jaime Herrera Beutler of Battle Ground, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside voted against the Contraceptive Access Protection Act.
On Tuesday, Newhouse was one of 47 Republicans who voted with all Democrats to pass a bill requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, defined marriage as between a man and a woman, but was later ruled unconstitutional by Supreme Court decisions. Still, it stays in the books. Given recent Supreme Court actions, Democrats say, that’s reason enough to codify the law rather than rely on a court decision.
In a consistent statement on the Supreme Court’s recent decision, Roe v. Overturning Wade, Judge Clarence Thomas wrote that the court should reconsider its decisions in old cases guaranteeing the right to contraception and same-sex marriage. He called the decisions “demonstrably flawed”.
Herrera Beutler, who faces a challenge from her party’s right wing in next month’s primary, said both same-sex marriage and access to contraception “are viewed as settled matters by a majority of this Supreme Court.”
In a prepared statement, Herrera Beutler said Democrats should have given more notice and held committee hearings before putting the bill to a vote.
Since it wasn’t, she said the vote was “more about election-year messaging than anything else.”
Herrera Beutler also said the Contraceptive Drugs Act should have progressed more slowly and gone through committees.
The law, she said, “could encourage the dangerous off-label use of certain abortion drugs and force religious institutions to violate their beliefs.
“Had this week’s partisan contraception law gone through the appropriate committee process and corrected its shortcomings, I would have supported it,” Herrera Beutler said.
Newhouse and McMorris Rodgers did not respond to requests for comment.
In a speech on the House floor Thursday, McMorris Rodgers called the contraceptive bill “a Trojan horse for more abortions.” She said the bill’s definition of contraceptives was too broad.
“This bill goes too far,” she said. “Democrats mix up the issues of abortion and contraception.”
The state Democratic Party attacked Republicans for their votes.
“Republicans from Washington House have shown they are not interested in guaranteeing access to contraception — the #1 way to actually reduce unwanted pregnancies,” Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said in a prepared Explanation.
After Tuesday’s vote on same-sex marriage, Podlodowski wrote that it was “appalling” that Herrera Beutler and McMorris Rodgers voted against the bills.
“While Democrats have voted again to protect our rights, many Republicans are actively trying to make it possible to take away those freedoms,” Podlodowski wrote.