U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) Wednesday to introduce legislation to overhaul current Department of Defense’s policy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling. The Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that all women who receive health care through the United States military have access to all FDA-approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay. The bill would also require the Department of Defense to develop and implement family planning counseling for all servicewoman at specific points during her service.
“When our brave women in uniform sign up to serve, there is no reason access to contraceptive health benefits should even be a question,” said Murray. “This commonsense bill will ensure full access and coverage for all women and their families. Senator Shaheen is a true champion for women’s health and I’m proud to work with her as we continue the fight to make sure no woman is excluded from this basic preventive care.”
“Most people are aghast when they realize that the women who step forward to protect our country are forced to step back when it comes to having full coverage for reproductive health care, ” said Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Servicewomen must, at the very least, receive the same care that women at home now have thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Senators Shaheen, Reid and Murray have come to the defense of our military servicewomen and families with legislation that will ensure access to the comprehensive health care they deserve, including birth control and accurate family-planning counseling. If we trust our servicewomen to protect our freedom, we must be there to protect theirs. This legislation helps to ensure that our nation’s heroes are not left behind.”
Studies have shown that the rate of unplanned pregnancy in the military is estimated to be up to 50 percent higher than the unplanned pregnancy rate among civilian women. This legislation takes a comprehensive approach to the issue by improving access to contraception for all women who receive their care through the military and ensuring that servicewomen have the best possible information about their health care and family planning options, wherever they are serving. Finally, the legislation would also ensure access to emergency contraception for servicewomen who are survivors of military sexual assault so that that they receive the critical and time-sensitive medical counseling and care they may need.
Shaheen and Murray were joined in introducing the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 by Senators Harry Reid (D-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Al Franken (D-MN), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jon Tester (D-MT) and Mark Begich (D-AK).