April 09, 2019

Kaine Introduces Bill To Ensure Reproductive Care Services For American Servicewomen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen to re-introduce the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act to ensure that all women who receive care through the United States military have access to all forms of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay. This bill would overhaul current Department of Defense (DoD) policy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling by making sure health care provided by the military is in line with current law for civilian populations

“Servicemembers and their families deserve the same access to contraception and family planning resources as other Americans,” said Kaine. “This bill helps ensure that women serving in the military receive comprehensive, affordable health care.”

The Department of Defense provides health care to approximately 1.1 million women of reproductive age, including servicewomen on active duty, in the guard or reserves, and their dependents. Studies have shown that women in the military have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy (50 percent higher) than the general population. The studies have also shown that servicewomen face unique challenges accessing their preferred method of contraception and family planning counseling, especially when deployed. Additionally, although the Women’s Health Amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees civilian women coverage of women’s health preventive services, without cost sharing, this policy does not apply to many servicewomen and dependents covered through military health insurance (TRICARE).

The Access to Contraception for Women Service Members and Dependents Act would:

  • Require that all women who receive health care through the military are treated the same as civilian women, and have access to all forms of FDA-approved contraception and family planning counseling services with no health insurance co-pay;
  • Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all servicemembers, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed family planning decisions; and
  • Enhance access to emergency contraception for survivors of military sexual assault.

The bill has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including: the American Civil Liberties Union, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Catholics for Choice, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, MomsRising, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Health Law Program, National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), National Network of Abortion Funds, National Organization for Women, National Partnership for Women & Families, National Women's Health Network, National Women's Law Center, Not Without Black Women, People For the American Way, Physicians for Reproductive Health, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Power to Decide, Service Women’s Action Network, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) and URGE: Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity. A letter of support for the legislation on behalf of the organizations can be read here.

Text of the legislation can be read in full here.