Home Business Republican Opposition to Birth Control Bill Could Alienate Voters, Poll Finds

Republican Opposition to Birth Control Bill Could Alienate Voters, Poll Finds

by SuperiorInvest

A month after the Supreme Court struck down abortion rights, Democrats who then controlled the House pushed a bill aimed at guaranteeing access to contraception nationwide. All but eight Republicans opposed it.

That vote two years ago, opposing legislation that would protect the right to buy and use contraceptives without government restrictions, may come back to haunt Republicans in November as they try to maintain their slim majority at a time when Real fears about reproductive rights threaten to turn voters away from them.

The risks they face became starkly clear last week, after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos must be considered children. In response, a stampede of Republicans in Congress rushed to voice support for in vitro fertilization treatment, even though they have supported legislation that could severely restrict or even ban aspects of the procedure.

A new national poll conducted by Americans for Contraception and obtained by The New York Times found that a majority of voters across the political spectrum believe their access to contraception is actively at risk, and that 80 percent of voters said protecting access to contraceptives was “deeply important” to them. Even among Republican voters, 72 percent said they had a favorable opinion of birth control.

When voters were told that 195 House Republicans had voted against the Right to Contraception Act, 64 percent of them said they would be less likely to support GOP congressional candidates, the poll found . And overall, the issue of protecting access to contraception increased voter preference for Democrats by nine points, giving them a 12-point lead over Republicans, up from three.

The survey found that access to birth control was especially motivating for groups critical of the Democratic coalition, including black voters and young people, who are currently less enthusiastic about the election.

Pollsters said the change in overall preference for one party, known as generic voting, was notable, particularly by such a wide margin.

“It's really difficult to pass a generic vote because the parties have brands,” said Molly Murphy, president of Impact Research, which conducted the survey. “The numbers of the named candidates can be changed, but people generally think they know the parties. It is difficult to change that perception.”

While the survey, conducted in early February, did not contain questions about IVF, its findings may help explain why so many Republicans have distanced themselves from a voting record that promotes policies that could jeopardize such procedures.

President Mike Johnson, for example, added his voice Friday night to the growing chorus of Republicans who say they support in vitro fertilization treatments. But like many of the other House Republicans who now say they support unrestricted IVF, Johnson is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which would recognize a fertilized egg as a person with equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

The bill states that the term “human being” includes “all stages of life, including the time of fertilization,” and does not include any exceptions for IVF and fertility treatments. If enacted, that could severely restrict IVF treatments, which typically involve the creation of multiple embryos, only one of which implants while the others are frozen to allow for later attempts at successful implantation.

It's the latest politically difficult terrain Republicans have had to navigate on reproductive health issues since the Supreme Court's 2022 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, who has made real for voters the threat that other rights could be next to go. According to the new poll, three in five voters who live in states where abortion has been banned or restricted said they were worried that contraception would be next.

Murphy said Republicans' reaction to the Alabama ruling indicated they know they have a political crisis on their hands.

“The reason they have to speak out against this is because they know it's implausible for voters to believe that this is simply a court in Alabama, but rather a representation of what this entire party stands for,” he said. Mrs. Murphy said. “If they thought this was an atypical ruling by a corrupt court in the South and they didn't have to say anything, they wouldn't say anything. “This is damage control.”

It will be the second national election cycle in which Republicans will face a problem of their own making by trying to reconcile their party's hardline policies on women's health (based on loyalty to a conservative religious doctrine ) with a large majority of the country. who now sees the issue differently.

According to the poll, a majority of voters support the Right to Contraception Act across parties, races and genders. About 94 percent of Democrats support him and 68 percent of Republican voters support him.

But when the proposal reached the House, Republicans resisted. Many of them stated that they supported contraception in practice, but considered the bill to be a gateway to allowing abortion. They argued that the bill's definition of contraceptives could be interpreted to include pills that induce abortion.

“The Republican Party has greatly underestimated the way the country has changed,” said Karen Finney, a longtime abortion rights activist. “This is part of the agreement they made with far-right conservatives who are inflexible on these issues. There are Republicans who recognize the damage it could do to their base of support if they changed in any direction.”

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a prominent anti-abortion group, opposed the Right to Contraception Act and ranked lawmakers based on their votes on the bill, demoting those who supported it and rewarding those who opposed it.

Finney said Democrats will also score their political opponents in their own way. “You'll see ads in some places questioning whether the Republican Party is really saying 'abstinence only,'” Ms. Finney said. “That's not going to win the youth vote.”

Some vulnerable Republicans have already been trying to change course on contraception after opposing the 2022 bill. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, led a group of House Republican women last year by sponsoring the Oral Contraception Act of 2023, a bill they introduced as a way to expand access to birth control.

Democrats rejected the bill (notably not opposed by Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America) as so narrow that it had virtually no effect except as an attempt to mask House Republicans' hostility toward contraception. The bill, which Johnson has not yet put to a vote, would direct the Food and Drug Administration to issue guidelines for companies that want to make oral contraceptives available without a prescription.

Only two pharmaceutical companies are actively working to offer contraceptives without a prescription. One of them, Opill, was already approved for sale without a prescription before the legislation was introduced. The other, from Cadence Health, has been in the FDA application process for years and would not necessarily benefit from or need the guidance the bill directs the agency to issue.

The new Americans for Contraception poll, conducted between February 2 and 8, included interviews with 1,800 voters.

In their conclusion, the pollsters gave some unequivocal advice to Democratic candidates ahead of the November elections that could also serve as a strong note of caution to Republicans who have opposed access to birth control.

“Don't avoid talking about all forms of contraception, including IUDs and emergency contraception like Plan B,” they wrote. “Contraception is popular and voters want to be the ones making the decisions about which methods to use. “They don’t make distinctions between types of birth control, and neither should we.”

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