Fetterman, Senate Dems introduce bill expanding access to over-the-counter birth control

20 July 2023- Today, Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA), joined by over a dozen of his Senate colleagues, and Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) in the House, introduced the Convenient Contraception Act, legislation that would improve access to contraceptive products, including over-the-counter contraceptives.

The bill provides individuals covered by private health insurance with the option to receive up to a full year of contraception at the time their prescription is issued instead of the current three-month supply or less that is standard in many states—an evidence-based policy that improves health outcomes.

In the Senate, Sen. Fetterman is joined by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Peter Welch (D-VT), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is sacred to me. I am proud to lead this first of its kind legislation to expand equitable access to contraceptives,” said Sen. Fetterman. “Convenient and reliable access to contraceptives reduces unintended pregnancies, improves maternal health outcomes, and promotes equity. I will continue fighting to expand contraceptive access and protect reproductive freedom.”

“Expanding access to contraception is a critical part of protecting the health and lives of millions of women, who have seen their access to care jeopardized by extreme Republicans’ attacks on reproductive freedom,” said Rep. Underwood. “Contraception is essential health care, and it must remain easily available nationwide.”

“Access to reproductive health care is under attack across our country, and we must take immediate action to protect access to contraception,” said Sen. Booker. “Every person should have the ability to make informed decisions about their own body without facing needless barriers or financial constraints. This legislation will empower individuals to take control of their reproductive health by ensuring equitable and easier access to contraceptive care.”

“If we want to support families, we need to protect access to reliable, affordable contraception,” said Sen. Casey. “This bill will live up to the promise of the Affordable Care Act by reducing the barriers many women, particularly low-income women, face when it comes to family planning and maternal health. This is a commonsense policy to make it easier for women to fill their prescriptions.”

“Access to contraception should be a right. Congress has a responsibility to protect Americans from far-right lawmakers in states across the country who want to restrict and criminalize reproductive health care,” said Sen. Markey, author of the Right to Contraception Act. “There’s no reason private insurers should stand in the way of patients and their providers, or make it even harder for Americans to get the care they need. The Convenient Contraception Act will break down this barrier and ensure that no one using contraception will have to worry they’ll run out of these products that their insurer is already required to cover.”

Currently, many private health insurance plans require a patient to pick up their contraception prescription multiple times over the duration of a prescription, creating an unnecessary burden and increasing the likelihood of gaps in protection. The Convenient Contraception Act permits individuals covered by private health insurance plans to pick up their full prescription supply, up to one year, at one time and requires these plans to cover the full cost at the time of pick-up. Removing barriers to contraception can help reduce racial and ethnic disparities and decrease the likelihood of unintended pregnancies, which have been linked to adverse health effects, including maternal depression, intimate partner violence, low birth weight, and preterm birth.

In the aftermath of the Dobbs decision and the ensuing nationwide attacks on reproductive freedom, Senator Fetterman has firmly defended the right for women to make decisions about their bodies. The Convenient Contraception Act would benefit women across the country, as removing barriers to contraception can reduce unintended pregnancies, maternal mortality, and socioeconomic and racial disparities in health care.

“For centuries, Black women, girls, and gender expansive people have had their bodies and lives controlled, policed, and criminalized”, said Dr. Regina Davis Moss, President and CEO of In Our Own Voice: National Black Women’s Reproductive Justice Agenda. “We deserve full autonomy, and access to sexual and reproductive health care services and resources regardless of who we are, where we live, and what kind of insurance we have. Access to Contraception of our choosing, free from unnecessary hurdles is one of many ways we can work to make Reproductive Justice a reality. We applaud Representative Lauren Underwood and Senator John Fetterman, and all our champions in working to ensure contraceptive equity for all.”