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Ohio GOP Rep. Steve Chabot's vote against contraception bill slammed in new ads

The group Americans for Contraception is running ads that also note 90% of House Republicans voted against the Right to Contraception Act.

By Emily Singer - October 14, 2022
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Steve Chabot

Republican Rep. Steve Chabot, who is in a tight race for reelection in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District against Democratic Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, is taking heat for his vote in July against a House bill that would codify the right to access birth control in the United States.

A new 501(c)(4) issue advocacy group called Americans for Contraception is spending what it says is “mid-six figures” to run television and online ads criticizing Chabot for his vote against the Right to Contraception Act, which would “protect a person’s ability to access contraceptives and to engage in contraception, and to protect a health care provider’s ability to provide contraceptives, contraception, and information related to contraception,” including intrauterine devices and emergency contraceptives such as Plan B. The bill passed the House, with all but eight GOP lawmakers voting against it.

The ads feature men and women pointing out that 90% of Republicans in the House voted against H.R. 8373. Some of the spots are directed against Chabot, and others against Arizona Republican Rep. David Schweikert. The speakers in the ads say, in slightly varying wording in each, “It’s birth control. Condoms, the pill, IUDs. They’re supposed to protect our freedoms, not take them away.”

Americans for Contraception began running the ads on Oct. 6 and will air them through Election Day. A spokesperson would not say who is behind the group.

Republicans across the country are facing scrutiny and criticism from Democratic candidates and organizations of their opposition to abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal in June of the affirmation of the constitutional right to an abortion that was established in Roe v. Wade in 1973, giving the states the ability to limit access to or ban abortions altogether.

Since the vote on H.R. 8373 in July, the focus has expanded to include candidates’ stances on contraception access.

Democrats passed the Right to Contraception Act after Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in a concurrence with the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe that the court should take a look at other rights it had affirmed but that are not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. He specifically mentioned Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that affirmed the right of married couples to use contraception.

Chabot did not explain his vote against the Right to Contraception Act.

However, other House Republicans said they voted against the bill because they considered it a distraction.

“This is a made up issue for [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi,” Rep. Don Bacon of Nebraska told the Washington Post. “She’s trying to generate an issue for November. I don’t know any Republican personally who wants to restrict contraception.”

Polling shows voters overwhelmingly support the right to contraception.

A YouGov/Economist survey from May found that 91% of voters believe birth control should be both free and widely available. A FiveThirtyEight/Ipsos survey published in July found similar results, with 90% of Americans saying condoms and birth control pills should be legal in “all” or “most” cases.

This isn’t the first time Chabot has come after contraception.

In 2012, he introduced the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, which would have repealed a provision in the Affordable Care Act that required employers to provide contraception coverage in insurance plans but was not taken up by the House. He stated in a press release at the time: “One of the founding freedoms of our great nation is the freedom of religion. This mandate displays a blatant disregard for the rights of conscience enjoyed by faith-based institutions across America.”

In 2017 the Trump administration introduced a rule extending the ability of private employers with religious or moral objections to covering birth control to opt out of providing such coverage to their employees, a rule that was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2020.

Former President Donald Trump carried the 1st Congressional District in 2020 by more than 3 points. But after redistricting following the 2020 census, Chabot’s seat became more Democratic-leaning. President Joe Biden would have won this district by 8.5 points, Daily Kos Elections noted in 2021.

The campaign website of Democratic challenger Landsman says: “Greg will never back down in the fight for the rights of everyone to make their own medical decisions. In Ohio and in D.C., legislators are working to strip away basic rights for women; even putting women in jail for their personal healthcare decisions. Greg believes that it is not the place of the government to dictate the decisions that Americans make about their own bodies. Politicians don’t belong in decisions made between a woman and her doctor.”

Inside Elections, the nonpartisan political handicapping outlet, rates the race in Ohio’s 1st Congressional District a “toss-up.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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