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Arizona Republicans Refuse To Even Consider Basic Birth Control Protections

After refusing to have committees take up two bills that would enshrine access to contraceptives in state law, Arizona Republicans on Wednesday blocked a Hail Mary effort by Democrats to force a hearing on the legislation.

Each deemed the Right to Contraception Act, the identical bills in the state’s House and Senate that would guarantee Arizonans’ access to “any drug, device or biological product intended for use in the prevention of pregnancy,” including Plan B emergency contraceptives.

Democrats say such defenses are necessary in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court striking down Roe v. Wade, which has emboldened Republicans to take aim at a range of reproductive protections.

But Republicans, which have single-seat majorities in each chamber, have refused to assign the bills to any committees, blocking them from progressing or even having a hearing on either chamber’s floor. So on Wednesday, Democrats led a vote to amend each chamber’s rules and allow them to bring the bills to an immediate vote. Every single Republican voted against the change.

While casting her vote in favor of the rule change, Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Stahl Hamilton, sponsor of the House version of the bill, said she felt like she was out of options.

“I have been here for four sessions ... and not once have any of my bills been heard in committee or reached the floor,” she said, adding, “The topic of this bill is so important that I believe it deserves a hearing. It is a topic that is relevant, it is a topic that deserves robust conversation, and it is a topic that most of the people in Arizona support.”

Stahl Hamilton had to be careful not to mention the words “contraceptives” or “abortion,” as House leadership warned her she would be “immediately gaveled down” if she did, Arizona House Democrats noted in a post on X.

Democratic state Sen. Priya Sundareshan, the sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said Arizonans shouldn’t be satisfied with Republicans’ claims that contraception access isn’t on the chopping block ― yet.

“Make no mistake, if Arizona Republicans retain control of the legislature, Arizonans will remain under threat of losing access to the full range of reproductive health care, from contraception to abortion to IVF,” she said in a statement Thursday.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) warned Thursday that Arizonans will remember this when they head to the polls in November.

“First, it was abortion, then it was IVF, now, they are refusing to protect contraceptives. This has never been about family planning – it’s 100% about control and power,” DLCC president Heather Williams said. “Arizonans and the rest of the country deserve leaders who fight for their full spectrum of rights, not those who work in lockstep to block them.”

Republicans were largely silent on the effort Wednesday, with only House Majority Leader Leo Biasiucci addressing it on the floor.

“There are processes and a way for bills to go through the House,” the Republican said.

But Arizona Senate Majority Leader Sonny Borrelli dismissed the need for the legislation in comments to The Arizona Mirror last week.

“They’re creating a controversy that doesn’t exist,” he said, adding, “Nobody has any kind of plan to ban any contraceptives.”

But in another comment, Borrelli revealed what he truly thinks about people relying on contraceptives to prevent pregnancy.

“Like I said, Bayer Company invented aspirin. Put it between your knees,” he said, seemingly suggesting abstinence.

He appeared to be channeling a 14-year-old remark from the late Foster Friess, once a major Republican party donor. In 2012, Friess rattled off the same head-scratching line during an MSNBC appearance.

“Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraception. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly,” he said. He later apologized for the comments, saying it was a joke and that he didn’t actually believe that was a “prescription for today’s birth control practices.”

Borrelli has not offered the same apology. When asked by HuffPost if, like Friess, he was also joking, he said he’d attributed the suggestion as his “grandmother’s advice to my sisters.” In a follow-up email he reiterated: “There have been NO conversations or plans to BAN any contraceptives.”

It may be true that Arizona’s current legislative body isn’t weighing a ban on contraceptives, but it’s not an outlandish thing for Democrats to anticipate. Weeks ago, Missouri Republicans renewed their efforts to block Medicaid from covering Plan B and intrauterine devices, known as IUDs. Last year, Iowa’s attorney general suspended a program covering emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault. And despite assurances like those coming from Borrelli, Republicans in Arizona and beyond refuse to legally protect access to contraception.

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