The Progressive


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The Promise of No-Cost Birth Control for Women Moves One Step Closer to Reality

NARAL Pro-Choice America calls on the Obama Administration to adopt expert panel’s recommendation that health-insurance plans cover contraception without a copay


Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, praised a panel of medical experts for recommending that health-insurance plans cover a full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraception at no cost.

The federal health-care law requires health plans to cover--at no cost--certain preventive-health services that are specific to women. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) appointed the Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel to recommend which services should be included. The panel, which included obstetricians, gynecologists, and other leading women's health experts, recommended fully covering family-planning care. HHS now will decide whether to adopt the experts' recommendation and make no-cost contraception a benefit required by law.

"As someone who has worked on women's rights for nearly 30 years, I can say that today's news marks one of the biggest advances for women's health in a generation," Keenan said. "Currently, nearly one in three women finds it difficult to pay for birth control, and that's why the United States has a far higher unintended-pregnancy rate than other industrialized countries. Making family-planning services available at no cost will help millions of women prevent unintended pregnancy and thereby reduce the need for abortion. We are confident that the Obama administration will adopt the IOM's science-based recommendation and make affordable contraception a reality for all women."

In November 2010, NARAL Pro-Choice America testified before the IOM panel and joined all 21 of its state affiliates in calling for family-planning services to be made available to women at no cost. In addition, the organization worked with its affiliates to educate younger Americans about the promise of no-cost birth control at 35 college campuses. Just last month, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation launched a Facebook application where individuals can determine how much money they could save if birth control were available without a copay.

Keenan said the organization expects that anti-contraception groups and their allies in Congress will try to block this important progress for women's health care.

"Americans are united behind the commonsense goal that improving women's access to birth control is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy," Keenan said. "Unfortunately, the current anti-choice majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has voted twice this year to defund family-planning programs that provide contraception and other basic care to millions of women and couples. These politicians are so out of touch with our country's mainstream values that they will try to derail the promise of no-cost birth control, and we will fight them every step of the way."

For over 50 years, Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL Pro-Choice America) has fought to protect and advance reproductive freedom at the federal and state levels—including access to abortion care, birth control, pregnancy and post-partum care, and paid family leave—for everybody. Reproductive Freedom for All is powered by its more than 4 million members from every state and congressional district in the country, representing the 8 in 10 Americans who support legal abortion.