Last week, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016. And in doing so, he signed into law an important provision relating to birth control for women serving in our military.
The provision ensures that Armed Forces members have comprehensive counseling regarding the full range of birth control methods, including how various methods may be appropriate, or not, given deployment conditions, training schedules, etc. The provision is welcomed because, as I have written before, studies suggest that women in the military aren’t getting comprehensive contraceptive counseling in their health care visits. As women are increasingly playing a bigger role in the military, we need to make sure that they are getting the information they need to make the best health care decisions.
But while this new provision will bring a critical improvement to the military health care system, there’s more work to be done. That’s why there’s a broader bill, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act sponsored by Senator Shaheen and Representative Speier. This bill includes additional necessary provisions that would improve access to birth control for both Active Duty members and other women who rely on the military for health care. For example, it would eliminate co-pays for birth control that dependents and non-Active Duty women currently have to pay. We are going to keep working to make sure these provisions also become law.
But, for now, let’s just take a moment and say thank you to Senator Shaheen and Representative Speier for working so hard to improve birth control access for our women servicemembers.
And a special thank you to our service members for their sacrifice in protecting our country and Constitution.