While the GOP and anti-abortion groups keep insisting that no one is coming after birth control, actual Republicans keep confirming that they are actually trying to do that.
The latest GOP man to say the quiet part out loud is Matthew DePerno, the Trump-endorsed Republican nominee for Michigan’s Attorney General, aka the top lawyer in the state. DePerno, who has said he supports banning abortion with zero exceptions, also suggested that Michigan should ban the morning-after pill and prevent it from entering the state as if it were fentanyl, an extremely deadly opioid. (By the way, DePerno is under criminal investigation for allegedly tampering with voting machines. Swell guy!)
According to audio from an August conversation at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Texas, obtained by Heartland Signal, an unidentified man asks DePerno if the state can ban Plan B. DePerno responds that “it’s an issue in terms of, how do you enforce it? You gotta figure out how to ban the pill from the state.”
The man asks if DePerno can use the court system to possibly get Plan B out of pharmacies, and DePerno said, “How do you stop it from coming in? That’s the question.” He continued: “You have to stop it at the border. It would be no different than fentanyl...The state has to ban it, and it should be banned. But it’s just an issue of how do you enforce it; how do you make sure that it stops?”
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Here’s the clip of DePerno’s comments:
In a statement to Jezebel, current Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) called the statement “completely absurd.”
“He’s being crystal clear about how little respect he has for women’s autonomy and their right to plan a family on their own timeline, and voters deserve to know how dangerous he would be if elected Attorney General.”
Plan B, or the morning-after pill, is emergency contraception which prevents pregnancy and cannot end an established pregnancy—it is not an abortion pill. But that hasn’t stopped anti-abortion activists and lawmakers from targeting it. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp (R) said earlier this month that he was open to banning Plan B in the state, if the legislature sent him a bill doing so.
In other words, Republicans are definitely coming for birth control. After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June, Justice Clarence Thomas said he wanted the court to revisit Griswold v. Connecticut, the 1965 case that legalized the use of birth control for married couples. And attacking emergency contraception—based on false claims that it interferes with implantation of a fertilized embryo—is the first step toward targeting contraception more broadly.
The Supreme Court already opened this door when it said in the 2014 Hobby Lobby case that for-profit religious employers’ health insurance plans don’t have to cover contraception. (The owners of Hobby Lobby specifically objected to covering Plan B and the copper IUD, because it can be used as an emergency contraceptive.) With the right cases, the court could rule next that no insurance plan has to cover birth control, or that the 14th Amendment grants legal personhood to every zygote, embryo, and fetus. This would not only ban abortion nationwide, but states could try to use that ruling to ban Plan B.
Just some stuff to think about as people head to the polls in a little under 50 days!