FLORIDA NEWSWIRE: OPINION — Last week, the house passed a bill to guarantee access to contraception with virtually no help from the Republicans. The measure was in response to Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion on the overturning of Roe v Wade that expressed that the established case law on contraception should be reconsidered. The bill has little chance of passing the senate.
On June 24th, Thomas said that the court, “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including Griswold, Lawrence, and Obergefell,” which set off a tidal wave of responses leading to the 228-195 vote on July 21st. Of the 16 Republicans representing Florida in the United States congress, only one voted to protect rights to contraception.
The vote represents the culmination of Republicans, and most specifically, Florida Republicans chipping away at the rights of women here at home. The overturning of Roe v Wade has exposed the underbelly of the minority opinion to ban abortions. Webster Barnaby, (R-Deltona), said in an interview with Politico, “We now have the political will to get things done that nine months ago we may not have gotten done, and I believe that we now have the will and we have the votes in the House to pass legislation that will ban abortion in the great state of Florida for life.”
It’s obvious that outside the realm of election year political messaging, the Florida’s GOP has its eye on the prize to chip away at abortion rights. However, the real question is, how far will they go to marginalize women in the state.
Florida’s right wing has a history of insulting and strategically ignoring their majority. From The Godfather of the Florida GOP, the “Donald” himself famously saying, he would, “grab them by the pu**y,” to most recently Matt Gaetz (R-FL) telling a student action summit that “women who looked like a thumb” needn’t concern themselves with abortion rights, the right wing here in Florida obliviously spew hatred towards the group who seemingly have the power to remove them from the office that they lambaste from.
With the latest attack on the gender, the Republican house representing us in the US congress has declared a new attack on its citizens: no protection of contraception by the government.
It may surprise many to know how recently we had birth control regulated. It was only the year before Roe that the Supreme Court ruled on Eisenstadt v. Baird in 1972. A ruling of 6-1 gave unmarried people the right to use contraception. Before that, it was the more famous case, Griswold v Connecticut in 1965 that determined the right to allow birth control for married couples.
The law that was upheld until that point was called a Comstock law, created by the man of the same name in 1873. The anti-vice zealot stood on congresses floor all day to get his “anti-obsentity” law passed unanimously by congress. The act prohibited the distribution, sale, mailing and possession of “obscene” materials — including contraception. The law expanded to include even oral information such as when to avoid having intercourse in order to prevent pregnancy. In fact, in 1916, feminist activist Emma Goldman was arrested in New York City just before giving a lecture on family planning under this law.
The Supreme Court rulings of Griswold and Eisenstadt effectively nullified the 19th century antiquated law, but the Act was never taken off of the books. So, the question of many might be: If these precedents are reversed, who’s to say that Comstock couldn’t be enforced in its entirety? More locally, what would that mean for Florida?
DeSantis and his fanatics could easily embrace the civil war era law on women. This June, for the second time, the Governor vetoed a bipartisan measure to help low income women access long acting birth control such as IUDs.
Considering the positive implications that the measure could have for those who tout themselves as pro-life, it can only lead one to wonder if this politicking is less about faith in their ideologies and more about control of women.
Even Wilton Simpson, an anti-choice Republican senator from Pasco told Florida politics in March, “When you consider we are pro-life, how many lives that may be saved by (long-acting reversible contraception), and remember it’s the people that cannot afford it is what this money’s for,” he continued “And about half of our population may not (be able to) afford these devices, and so I think that is certainly a tool that should be in the toolbox.”
The implications of the overturning of Roe have impacted the course of politics for the country and the state and has left many of us wondering the fate of its citizens. No matter your opinion on what will happen, one thing seems certain: if you are a woman in Florida, voting for the GOP would be against your own interests, that is, if you value any of your rights.
This editorial content first appeared on FloridaNewswire.com and is Copr. © 2022 by Laura Dean and Florida Newswire™, a publication of Neotrope®. Opinions are those of the author and may not represent opinions or policy of the site or its publisher.