PHOENIX — On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, Democratic leaders vowed to preserve access to contraceptives for Arizonans.
Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, said she plans to introduce a bill during the next legislative session in January that would guarantee access to birth control.
Gov. Katie Hobbs joined Salman and other advocates at a press conference Thursday to discuss the proposed Arizona Right to Contraception Act.
“Legislators should know that any efforts to take away our reproductive rights will quickly meet with my veto pen,” Hobbs said.
The impetus for Salman’s proposed bill was in response to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which eliminated a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.
In his opinion, Thomas said the court should reconsider past rulings that guaranteed due process including the right to access contraception, same-sex marriages and consensual gay sex.
In a 6-to-3 ruling, the Supreme Court ended almost 50 years of constitutional protection to an abortion on June 24, 2022. States were left to decide the legality of abortion. Today, most abortions are banned in 14 states and eight states have blocked the ban.
“Roe was not only the foundation for abortion care, but provided the framework for decades more of legal precedent that guaranteed everybody’s right to contraception no matter what state they live in,” Salman said.
She added that preserving a person’s right to contraception “is an issue that cuts beyond party lines. This is an issue that transcends politics. If you are not in support of your constituents having a guaranteed right to birth control then the public deserves to know.”
According to Candid, a nonprofit organization that provides social sector data and insights, 19 million women who are eligible for publicly funded contraception and are of reproductive age in the U.S. live in a contraceptive desert. This means they lack reasonable ways to access birth control.
“Contraception is especially critical for historically marginalized groups, many of whom already face barriers exacerbated by social, political, economic and environmental inequities to reproductive health care that reduce their ability to make decisions about their own health, their own families and their own lives,” Salman said.
She said Arizona’s current laws allow providers to refuse providing or prescribing contraceptives and information about contraceptives on the basis of their own beliefs.
The proposed contraception rights bill is supported by both legislatie Democratic caucuses and millions of Arizonans, Salman said. But Republicans hold the majority of seats in both the Arizona Senate and House, so passage of the proposed bill would be an uphill battle.
Hobbs left legislators with a message: “A tax on reproductive freedoms and basic health care will not be tolerated any longer. If you care about freedom. If you care about the future of our state you must join me, Rep. Salman and Arizonans from across the political spectrum who believe in protecting reproductive health care.”