Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Victory in the Push for Access to Contraception

On August 1, 2012, under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), private insurance plans will begin to cover the cost of birth control — meaning millions of women will no longer have to pay the up to $600 a year that birth control can cost.

Most young women with insurance will soon be able to choose among birth-control methods — oral contraception, injectables, the ring, IUDs, and others. They will be able to select the method that best fits their needs and lives, without cost standing in the way of their decision. You helped make birth control with no co-pay a reality. You sent thousands of letters and participated throughout the year in a campaign urging President Obama and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to stand firm and supporting them in the face of relentless attacks from social conservatives. And you were heard!

With this new mandate, making women's preventative care affordable for those with insurance, we are inching closer to the day when all young women will be able to choose the type of contraception that is right for them; when they can take full control of protecting their health and planning for their futures.

Unfortunately, not everyone has coverage yet. Conscience clauses still allow churches and other houses of worship to deny coverage to their employees. And, nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will have an additional year to prepare (until August 1, 2013) to comply with the new law — meaning many students at colleges and universities which claim a religious exemption may not be covered until next year. And, last week, in Colorado a judge granted an injunction allowing one business to deny its employees access to birth control while its lawsuit challenging the ACA is decided.

So we still have a long way to go to ensure all women have access to affordable contraception and the full range of reproductive health services. But today, thanks to your activism and commitment, private insurance coverage begins to reflect the health care needs and priorities of women. And that's something to celebrate.

In solidarity,

Julia Reticker-Flynn
Youth Activist Network Manager
Advocates for Youth

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