Tempe lawmaker leads contraceptives rights effort; Gilbert legislator has doubts

Tempe lawmaker leads contraceptives rights effort; Gilbert legislator has doubts

Bob Christie | Capitol Media Services

A Tempe lawmaker has signed on with Gov. Katie Hobbs and said she would introduce legislation next year making access to contraception a right for all Arizonans.

But Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, said that while he has not seen the proposal, he believes Rep. Athena Salman, D-Tempe, will include provisions that make it unpalatable for Republicans.

Hobbs joined Salman Thursday to announce an effort to enact a law protecting the rights of all women to access contraceptives.

Speaking on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the high court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Salman said she would introduce legislation next year making access to contraception a right for all Arizonans.

“Enough, is enough,” Salman said. “We believe that contraception is central to a person’s privacy, health, well-being, dignity, liberty, equality and ability to participate in social and economic life.”

The governor said reproductive freedoms are at risk following last year’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade, the 50-year-old court decision that said abortion is a constitutional right.

Since that decision, laws blocking or limiting access to abortion that Roe had barred have been implemented in Arizona and a host of other Republican-led states.

And there is more on the way if no one prevents it, the Democratic governor said.

“It didn’t take long for extremist politicians to turn this into a full-core attack on access to reproductive care, including contraception,” Hobbs said. “Just last year, every Arizona Republican in Congress voted against ensuring that every American can access basic contraception.”

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But getting the legislation through the Republican-controlled Legislature will be a heavy lift, and Grantham essentially pronounced Salman’s bill dead on arrival.

“All I’m doing is guessing based on who is introducing the bill what’s going to be in it, and it will be totally unsellable to a majority of the caucus and the majority of the Legislature,” Grantham said.

“You need 31 (House) votes, and I personally don’t know one Republican who will support that bill if it’s the bill I think it is.”

Salman said her proposal has not even been drafted.

Despite that, Grantham called the proposal unnecessary since contraception is protected by other Supreme Court rulings.

“Everybody’s got a right to contraception anyway,” he said.

However, Hobbs, Salman and others who spoke at Thursday’s news conference highlighted Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion in the Dobbs case as a reason to be fearful that the right to contraception is also at risk.

Thomas pointed to cases that established the right to contraception, outlawed sodomy laws and legalized same-sex marriage as decisions that hinged on privacy rights he believed are not in the U.S. Constitution.

And he specifically suggested that the full court “should reconsider” those decisions – including the 1965 ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut that concluded there is a right to privacy that prevents states from making the use of contraception by married couples illegal.

Cathi Herrod of the Center for Arizona Policy, a powerful group that has pushed anti-abortion laws at the state Capitol for years, said Democrats are making much ado about nothing.

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“The proposal appears to be a solution in search of a problem,” Herrod said.

“No one is talking about restricting contraception,” she said. “No one is talking about making contraception illegal or leaving it up to the state Legislature to determine access. So, it’s a non-issue.”

Salman, however, pointed to a fetal “personhood” law pushed by Herrod’s group and enacted in 2021 as a concern.

The law confers rights to unborn children, and she said it could be used to ban certain forms of contraception in the state if higher courts overturn a federal judge’s ruling that have so far blocked its implementation.

“Arizona is one of the states where birth control can just be under extreme legal jeopardy at the snap of a court (if) they lift that injunction,” Salman said.

We’d like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email [email protected].

  • June 25, 2023