WASHINGTON, D.C. (WGHP) – Rep. Kathy Manning takes a turn in the congressional limelight Thursday when a bill she has authored to protect contraceptive rights is expected to come to a vote in the House of Representatives.

Manning (D-Greensboro), who represents the 6th Congressional District, is the principal behind the Right to Contraception Act (HR 8373) that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Manning announced in a streamed briefing earlier today.

They spoke – along with three others – while surrounded by women from Congress who support the bill as a codified response to the perceived threats in Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas’s opinion in the court case that last month overturned Roe v. Wade and federal access to a legal abortion.

Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., center, accepts applause as author of the Right to Contraception Act, as she is recognized by, from left, Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-Calif., Rep. Angie Craig, D-Minn., and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., during an event with Democratic women House members ahead of the vote on the at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Thomas in his concurrence suggested that the court should review decisions that authorized same-sex marriage and a woman’s access to contraception.

The issue addressed by Manning’s bill, she and Pelosi said, is the 57-year-old case of Griswold v. State of Connecticut, which ensured that the Constitution protected the rights of women and couples to buy and use contraceptives. Before that some states prohibited that right.

Another suggestion in Thomas’s brief – that the court ruling that allowed same-sex couples to get a marriage license – came to a similar vote Tuesday, when the House passed a bill that would recognize such unions on a federal level.

There were 47 Republicans who voted in support of that bill, but none of those representing North Carolina did so. Manning and Pelosi said they were hoping for bipartisan support for contraceptive rights.

Last week the House voted to codify abortion rights after the Supreme Court’s ruling and a second bill to prohibit punishment for a woman or child who decides to travel to another state to get an abortion. No Republicans supported those bills.

Significant support

Pelosi called the suggestion by Thomas that the decision about contraception should be reviewed as an example of the “fundamentals of privacy they [Republicans] want to erase.” She said there was a threat to “criminalize contraception” and eliminate private decisions about birth control.

“Do you wonder if they even know what’s going in their own homes?” she asked.

“Let us be clear: We are not going back. Our daughters, our granddaughters, we are not going back.”

All five speakers cited polls that say 96% of Americans support the right to contraception – birth control pills and devices often are used to treat other maladies endured by women – and the public sentiment that represents.

“For public sentiment to prevail,” Pelosi said, “people have to know. We want to be sure people know.”

‘Women deserve the rights’

Manning said her bill creates a federal statutory right for individuals, for “families to have discussions with health care professionals … to provide them with birth-control pills. IUDs and emergency contraceptives,” such as the “morning-after pill.”

She said her bill prohibits states from passing laws to limit this access and allows civil suits against any state or government that attempts to do so.

“Congress must pass this bill,” she said. “We’re not willing to play defense on this critically important issue. We will play offense. … Women deserve the rights.”

She said that 150 members of the House have signed on as cosponsors and that there is a companion bill in the Senate.

Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-California) called this a “post-Roe moment” in which women like herself should ensure they have the right to decide if or when they have a family.

“That shouldn’t be determined by the Supreme Court or even by Congress,” she said. “I was told I was the first person in Congress to talk about my period on the House floor in the past 35 years and maybe ever.

“We should be talking about periods, about our birth control. … These threats are not abstract. … They are not hypothetical. We can’t wait for things that once seemed unthinkable

“We will never stop fighting because the stakes are too high and too personal.”

Affects Black women more

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., makes a point during an event with Democratic women House members and advocates for reproductive freedom ahead of the vote on the Right to Contraception Act, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, July 20, 2022. She is flanked by Rep. Kathy Manning, D-N.C., and Rep. Lauren Underwood, D-Ill. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Illinois), a Black woman, talked about how limits on access to contraception would disproportionately affect Black women, who are much more likely to have uterine fibroids that require birth control to treat and also because they are more likely to be single mothers and breadwinners.

“Our answer is simple,” she said. “Codify the right federally and ensure that women. no matter what ZIP code they live in, can access reproductive care and birth control and health care.

“Women deserve the right to access contraception without fear.”

Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minnesota), who has been an author of elements of the bill that would protect the data of women that might be exposed by phone apps that track their cycles, cited the fact that “77% of Republicans yesterday voted against my family.

“I’m disheartened … appalled that we have to vote on this damn bill at all.”