House Speaker Mike Johnson Plays Dumb When Asked About His Vote Against Birth Control

When a Fox News host asked Johnson about his record voting against IVF and contraception, the newly elected speaker said, "I really don’t remember..."

House Speaker Mike Johnson Plays Dumb When Asked About His Vote Against Birth Control

On Sunday, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) claimed in a cable news interview that he simply couldn’t recall whether he’d voted against birth control—despite doing so a little over a year ago.

The far-right lawmaker who has blamed school shootings on abortion and opposes no-fault divorce was among the 195 House Republicans who voted against codifying the right to birth control last July. It was a high-profile vote since, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas called for the court to overrule other privacy rights, including contraception and marriage equality.

But when Johnson appeared on Fox News Sunday, he seemed confused as to whether he supported the bill. Host Shannon Bream asked him about his record on reproductive rights, as compiled by the group EMILY’S List. Bream quoted the group’s criticisms, saying Johnson “supported bans that would not only criminalize abortion, but ban IVF treatments and common forms of birth control, and that you voted against access to contraception.” Then Bream asked: “Where are you on these issues? Is that an accurate assessment of where you are? Because that’s not in step with the American people.”

Johnson twisted himself into a pretzel by responding that he’s just a nice Christian man and it didn’t use to be controversial to be a Christian politician. Bream followed up around 1:35 in the clip below: “To be clear, though, have you voted against fertility treatments and access to contraception? Would you?” And Johnson replied: “I don’t think so. I’m not sure what they’re talking about. I really don’t remember any of those measures, but I am personally pro-life.”

Here’s the exchange:

Well, we remember, Mike.

Johnson voted against the Right to Contraception Act (HR 8373), a bill that would have created a legal right to obtain and use all Food and Drug Administration-approved forms of contraception. The vote was 228 to 195, with an additional two members of Congress voting “present”—you can see how your representative voted on the House clerk’s website. It beggars belief that Johnson can’t remember this bill.

Johnson is also a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act (HR 431), a bill that would grant legal personhood to every fertilized egg. It’s effectively a nationwide abortion ban that would also affect the embryos created for IVF. He hasn’t yet voted for a total abortion ban, or against IVF, but he co-sponsors this bill, so his response to Bream was disingenuous at best.

Johnson is a Christian nationalist who opposes abortion, divorce, gay marriage, and, apparently, even porn. Another Johnson story making the rounds on Sunday was that he said last year that he and his son monitored each other’s porn intake and called his son his “accountability partner.” This is deeply weird, but it sounds like what he really needs is an “accountability partner” to help remind him of his well-known views on controlling people’s uteruses before he goes and acts dumb on live TV.

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