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NC Congresswoman: Right to birth control is under attack

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The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which demolished the constitutional right to an abortion, has ignited a deep sense of fear and uncertainty for women of all ages. Two generations of women grew up believing the reproductive freedoms recognized in Roe v. Wade were settled law. Now the ground is shifting beneath their feet.

Take it from a group of girls at a firefighter camp hosted by the Greensboro Fire Department. During my recent visit with them, the first question asked was: “Now that Roe is overturned, what’s going to happen to us?”

The anguish of this question made two things clear: Women in my district are terribly worried about their reproductive future, and I must fight for them in Congress.

The next battlefield has been clearly delineated. This time, politicians are going after our right to use birth control.

In his Dobbs opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas explicitly called for the reconsideration of the constitutional right to contraception, first recognized in the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case. His words added fuel to the fire that has been simmering for years as extremist lawmakers across the country have attempted to chip away at women’s access to contraceptives. Radical politicians have conflated abortion with contraception and spread misinformation to support their extreme positions.

It’s 2022. We should not have to explain that access to birth control is about equality. It’s key to ensuring women can complete their education, get good jobs, protect their health, plan their families, and build economically secure and fulfilling lives.

Here are the facts: Almost all women will use birth control at some point in their lives, and 96% of voters support having access to birth control.

So why are politicians attacking something so critical to women’s lives, and so clearly approved by voters? It’s simple: This is about control.

I will not let extreme politicians strip away women’s rights and private healthcare choices. We need to stop playing defense and start playing offense.

That’s why I introduced the Right to Contraception Act in Congress. My bill creates a federal statutory right to contraception, protecting a full range of contraceptive methods, including birth control pills, IUDs and emergency contraceptives. It prohibits states or government officials from violating those rights.

The U.S. House passed my bill last week with the support of eight Republicans. Unfortunately, none of those Republicans were from North Carolina.

The speeches in opposition to my bill were alarming. The extremists across the aisle either hadn’t read the bill or were shamelessly untruthful about it.

They made it shockingly clear they are ready to limit the kinds of birth control available to women. This was a warning call to all who value the freedom to choose the kind of birth control that works best for them.

Now it’s up to the Senate. I’m hopeful the Senate will recognize the importance of giving women the freedom to use contraceptives — a freedom that senators, their wives, mothers and daughters have had for more than 50 years.

I have listened to the women and girls in my district. I have fought to make sure their voices are heard, and their fundamental rights are recognized. I look forward to the day the Senate passes my bill, so we can show the women and girls, especially those promising future firefighters in my District, that their voices count, and they will have the freedom to pursue their dreams with their reproductive rights secured.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning is a Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District. She lives in Greensboro. This piece was originally published at CharlotteObserver.com.

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