Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks told Iowans last Thursday she values access to contraception and women making decisions for themselves. Then she voted against a bill that would protect women’s ability to do those two things.
Miller-Meeks and Rep. Ashely Hinson, both Republicans, voted against the Right to Contraception Act, but supported a separate bill, the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act. The second measure is far less comprehensive and only calls for making oral contraceptives available over-the-counter for women ages 18 and older by speeding up FDA approval.
“Regardless of our stance, we can all agree that we should enact policies to reduce the number of women who feel the need to seek an abortion and the evidence is clear one of the best ways we can prevent abortions is to increase access to contraception,” Miller-Meeks said on the floor.
Miller-Meeks said the oral contraceptive bill was better than the Right to Contraception Act, which protects the ability of a person to obtain or use multiple types of contraceptives. It also protects the ability of health care providers to provide or inform about contraceptives and pregnancy prevention generally.
Yet Miller-Meeks called the Democratic bill extreme and dangerous to women’s health without explaining how. She also said it allows non-FDA-approved contraception methods, which isn’t true.
On the first page of the Right to Contraception Act, contraceptives are defined as “any drug, device, or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy, whether specifically intended to prevent pregnancy or for other health needs, that is legally marketed under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act…”
The FDA enforces that act.
The Right to Contraception Act also lists common, popular contraceptives such as long-acting reversible contraceptives (IUDs and implants), emergency contraceptives, oral contraceptives, internal and external condoms, and vaginal barriers among others.
Rep. Cindy Axne, Iowa’s lone Democrat in Congress, supported the act.
“Access to birth control is essential in treating a wide array of medical conditions, decreasing the risk of certain cancers, and for planning families,” Axne said in a statement. “People deserve the right to make decisions about when they want to have children, and the ability to access contraceptives is critical to that. The decision last month in Dobbs v. Jackson decision sadly threatens that right, which is why it is so critical that Congress acts to ensure Iowans and all Americans are able to access birth control if they want it.”
Axne was the only Iowan to vote for the bill. Rep. Randy Feenstra joined fellow Republicans Hinson and Miller-Meeks in opposing it.
Miller-Meeks did note people use birth control pills for more than preventing pregnancy, but the bill she supported wouldn’t apply to teenagers. Additionally, health insurance doesn’t cover over-the-counter medication so cost could be a barrier.
The Right to Contraception Act passed the House 228-195 with all Democrats and only eight Republicans voting in support.
A June poll by Gallup showed 92% of Americans called birth control “morally acceptable.” A PRRI poll, conducted right after the Supreme Court decision to overturn abortion, showed about 84% of Americans said they opposed laws restricting what types of birth control can be used to prevent pregnancy.
“To deny women access to birth control is to deny women a right to privacy and the right to control their own lives,” said State Rep. Christina Bohannan, who is running against Miller-Meeks. “With her vote against contraception, Miller-Meeks shows yet again that she out of touch with Iowans and is aligned with the most extreme members of her party.”
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