Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey Reminds Voters ‘Birth Control Is on the Ballot’

Nearly a week after Republican U.S. Senators blocked the Right to Contraception Act, Casey spoke to Red Wine & Blue about what’s at stake for women in November.
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Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey was part of a virtual panel for Red Wine & Blue’s “Birth Control is on the Ballot” event Tuesday night. 

The event came nearly a week after the U.S. Senate fell one vote short of moving the Right to Contraception Act past a filibuster. Out of the 59 votes for the Act, only two Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, split from their party.

Casey, a Democrat who voted to pass the Act, is very concerned about how his colleagues across the aisle voted. “I’ve been a member of the Senate for a while, and you have an expectation sometimes of how the other side is going to vote. But I’ll tell you, on this one, it’s still stunning and disturbing that every single Republican senator except two wouldn’t even vote to debate the right to contraception, which I think for a lot of Americans is really stunning,” he said. “And I think it’s proof positive of what a lot of Constitutional law scholars were talking about in the aftermath of the Dobbs case.”

Red Wine & Blue is an organization dedicated to helping suburban women politically organize in their communities. Reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy is a growing concern for women across the country post-Dobbs.

“Most of the attention, of course, was on the fact that Roe was overturned,” said Casey. “But there was some commentary at the time that this could affect other rights, including the right to contraception. And here we are, a graphic display of Republican extremism.”

In the aftermath of the Right to Contraception Act vote, Republicans argued that there was no reason for the act because contraception is protected under a precedent set by the Supreme Court. Pro-choice advocates, however, say that Roe vs. Wade was the Supreme Court precedent for 50 years on cases of abortion, and if the right to an abortion could be overturned, then so could many other reproductive rights.

It does not help the Republican argument that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, one of the five justices who voted to overturn federal protection of abortions, said the Supreme Court should reconsider past rulings in terms of codifying contraception, as well as codifying same-sex relationships and marriage, only two days after the Dobbs decision.

READ: There Are Now Fewer Barriers to Birth Control In Pennsylvania, Unless You Are Poor

While Pennsylvania is not currently at risk of losing the right to abortion or contraception, Casey argued that voters should not be complacent. “The concern is that if we moved as a nation in what I would argue is the wrong direction, meaning electing a Republican president and having a senate majority, you could have blue state impact,” said Casey. “Whether it’s a blue state ban that affects contraceptives, or whether it’s a blue state ban when it comes to abortion because of mifepristone.” 

Sen. Casey was not the only citizen from the commonwealth on the panel. Aimee Saunders, a member of the Red Wine & Blue from the Lehigh Valley, and Dr. Jessica Klemens, an OB/GYN in Willow Groove, both shared experiences on how they became advocates for women’s reproductive rights. Saunders shared a story of how she had a miscarriage in 2003 at 9 weeks, but it was not detected until 13 weeks. She then pointed out that the procedure she had done, a dilation and curettage, more commonly known as a D&C, is now included in bans nationwide. Klemens then shared the stories of many patients who had to terminate pregnancies that were no longer viable or put the mother at risk, which helped convince her own mom to join Red Wine and Blue.

Currently, Casey is running for reelection against David McCormick, who lost the 2022 Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary to Mehmet Oz. McCormick has said that he does not support abortions except in very rare instances when the mother’s life is in danger and believes that there should not be a national abortion ban.

READ: Bucks County Changemakers Interview with Kim Barbaro, Red Wine & Blue’s Deputy Director of ‘TroubleNation’

McCormick has argued that Casey supports abortion up until the moment of birth – a widely regurgitated political canard used by Republicans to mischaracterize the nature of the very rare cases of abortion performed later in pregnancy. In fact, only about 1 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks and are usually because of “medical concerns such as fetal anomalies or maternal life endangerment.” 

Casey’s campaign, on the other hand, has branded McCormick as extreme for not supporting abortion rights, and especially in cases of rape or incest.

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Aidan Tyksinski

Aidan Tyksinki is a recent graduate from La Salle Univeristy in Philadelphia, where he majored in media and journalism and minored in political science. Before writing for the Beacon, he had work published for National Collegiate Rugby as well as his school paper The Collegian, where he was the editor for the sports section and contributer in the politics section.

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