Press Release

June 5, 2024
Cardin Says the Right to Contraception Act would have Knocked Down Barriers to Women’s Health
“The right to choose whether to have a child is fundamental, and it is a decision that should only be made by women in consultation with their health care provider, not with interference from federal, state, or local governments.”

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Finance Healthcare Subcommittee, issued the following statement on the Right to Contraception Act, which was blocked by Senate Republicans today.

“The right to contraception is not merely a matter of health, but a matter of autonomy and equality. We must protect a women’s right to access to reproductive care.

“I am a proud cosponsor of the Right to Contraception Act being considered by the Senate. Our essential legislation will codify the right to contraception to prevent further restrictions on reproductive health services for all Americans.

“Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, those opposed to reproductive freedoms have consistently acted to restrict and ban access to reproductive health care, including abortion, contraception, and even IVF.

“In his concurrence in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, in support of decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas directly called into question the right to contraception as a logical outgrowth of the Dobbs decision. Since the decision came down, it has become clear that restrictions and bans on abortion are just the first step in withholding reproductive health care and access, preventing women and their health care providers making the best decision without government intrusion.

“For almost 60 years, people have had the right to access contraception. In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled, in Griswold v. Connecticut, that states could not block married couples from being able to access contraception. This ruling paved the way for the 1972 Supreme Court decision in Eisenstadt v. Baird, expanding the right to contraception to unmarried people.

“Despite these protections – and 96 percent of voters supporting access to birth control – some lawmakers continue to attack this basic right. Just as with abortion, extremists are making moves to undermine, and eventually eliminate, women’s right to access birth control.

“Deciding whether to have a child is not only a health care issue but tied directly to economic and opportunities. Research demonstrates that when women are given more control over family planning and childbearing decisions, educational, career, and professional opportunities open up to them.

“The facts: with the Supreme Court decisions on Griswold and Eisenstadt, access to the pill was associated with a 1.7 percentage-point increase in the margin of women in professional careers. The gender gap in the workplace can also be narrowed when women have access to the pill at a younger age. Women with access to contraception in their early twenties earned $2,200 more per year by their early 40s than women who were not able to have access to contraception.

“Access to the pill correlates to an increase in women in the workforce, however, there still are an estimated 19 million women of reproductive age in this country who live in contraceptive deserts.

“Communities of color, young people, immigrants, low-income, and LGBTQ+ individuals face the consequences of this abortion ban. These communities are more likely to experience additional barriers to accessing reproductive health care. Birth control ensures more people can access the future they envision for themselves and their families.

“I am proud that Maryland has been recognized as the first state to mandate contraceptive coverage in 1998. We have long been a leader in supporting and protecting reproductive rights. On April 14, 2023, Governor Moore announced that the state would begin to stockpile mifepristone. Maryland remains committed to remaining a safe haven for abortion and reproductive health care access.

“However, even in Maryland, where state law protects the right to choose, in April 2022, the legislature had to override a veto from Governor Larry Hogan to enact the Abortion Care Access Act. This act expands reproductive health care by allowing additional trained health professionals, including nurse practitioners, midwives and physician assistants, to perform abortions.

“After the law took effect July 1, 2022, Governor Hogan withheld millions of dollars in state funds that were designated for the Abortion Care Clinical Training Program. Thankfully, Governor Wes Moore released those funds on his very first day in office in 2023.

“This November, Marylanders will vote on a constitutional amendment to further protect reproductive freedom. Passage would further impede the ability of opponents to take away abortion rights in the future.

“Throughout my time in Congress, I have worked to dismantle barriers to women’s health. The right to choose whether to have a child is fundamental, and it is a decision that should only be made by women in consultation with their health care provider, not with interference from federal, state, or local governments. It is time for us to elevate the voices that truly know how much is at stake in the fight for reproductive freedoms. Lives are at risk in this generation and beyond.

“I’m disappointed that we could not overcome today’s partisan blockade. Congress must pass the Right to Contraception Act, and we must work every day until Roe v. Wade is the law of the land once again.”