Washington’s three Republican members of Congress voted Thursday against legislation intended to protect access to contraception nationwide, just two days after two of the three voted against a bill to protect same-sex marriage.
Democrats brought up the vote on high-profile social issues they see as potentially under attack following the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights. Republicans said the votes were rushed for election-year messaging purposes.
Both bills passed the House but face uncertain futures in the Senate.
Republican Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler of Battle Ground, Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane and Dan Newhouse of Sunnyside, voted against the bill to protect access to contraception.
On Tuesday, Newhouse was one of 47 Republicans to vote with every Democrat for a bill requiring the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages.
The federal Defense of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, defined marriage as between one man and one woman, but it was ruled unconstitutional by later Supreme Court decisions. Still, it remains on the books. Given the Supreme Court’s recent actions, Democrats said, that’s enough reason to codify the right, rather than rely on a court decision.
In a concurring opinion to the Supreme Court’s recent decision overturning Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the court should reconsider its decisions in old cases that guaranteed the right to contraception and same-sex marriage. He called the decisions “demonstrably erroneous.”
Herrera Beutler, who faces a challenge from the right wing of her party in next month’s primary election, said both same-sex marriage and contraception access “are viewed by a majority of this Supreme Court as settled matters.”
In a prepared statement, Herrera Beutler said Democrats should have given more notice and held committee hearings before bringing the bill for a vote.
Since they didn’t, she said the “vote was more about election-year messaging than anything else.”
Herrera Beutler also said the contraceptive bill should have moved more slowly and gone through committees.
The bill, she said, “could encourage dangerous off-label use of certain drugs to terminate pregnancies and force religious institutions to violate their beliefs.
“Had this week’s partisan contraception bill gone through the appropriate committee process and improved on its flaws, I’d have supported it,” Herrera Beutler said.
Newhouse did not reply to requests for comment.
McMorris Rodgers said the same-sex marriage legislation was “a red herring designed to distract Americans” from inflation, gas prices and violence in cities.
In a speech on the House floor Thursday, McMorris Rodgers called the contraceptives bill “a Trojan horse for more abortions.” She said the definition of contraceptives in the bill was too broad.
“This bill goes too far,” she said. “Democrats are conflating the issues of abortion and contraception.”
The state Democratic Party assailed the Republicans for their votes.
“Washington House Republicans showed they aren’t interested in guaranteeing access to contraception — the No. 1 way to actually reduce unintended pregnancies,” Democratic Party Chair Tina Podlodowski said in a prepared statement.
After Tuesday’s vote on same-sex marriage, Podlodowski wrote it was “appalling” that Herrera Beutler and McMorris Rodgers voted against the bills.
“While Democrats have once again voted to protect our rights, many Republicans are actively trying to make it possible to take away those freedoms,” Podlodowski wrote.