Because of you, many women will not lose access to no-cost birth control under the health care law.
For months now, we’ve been updating you on a new “interim” rule that would provide women across the country access to birth control with no co-pays. This morning, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it was issuing a final rule providing contraceptives without co-pays and refused to expand the religious employer exemption.
Over the summer in its temporary rules, HHS deemed birth control a necessary preventive health service for women, thus requiring coverage without co-pays by the Affordable Care Act. It also would allow a narrow set of religious employers to deny this critical coverage to their employees. But that didn’t satisfy opponents of contraception. They wanted the coverage to be dropped, or at least to expand the exception to nearly 1.5 million employees and the women in their families. HHS stood firm, taking a giant step forward in protecting women’s health.
It is crucial that women have access to affordable birth control to prevent unintended pregnancies, plan the timing and size of their families, and protect their health. The reality is that nearly all sexually active women in the U.S., regardless of their religious beliefs, use contraception at some point in their lives. Contraception is a preventive health service that should be covered, as HHS has determined. While any exception is unwarranted, an expansion of the exemption would have meant that nearly 1.5 million employees and the women in their families would lose the right to no-cost birth control.
For many years, the National Women’s Law Center has worked to get contraception covered in all health insurance plans, and we won’t stop now. Over the past few months, you’ve joined our effort and sent over 100,000 messages as part of our birth control — we’ve got you covered campaign. And we need your help again — thank Secretary Sebelius for the basic coverage now provided, and urge her to work to make sure that those women whose employers fit into the exception get access to contraception.
Thank you for all that you do to support women’s access to reproductive health care.