In 1972, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that American citizens have legal access to contraception regardless of their marital status. Decades later, we are still fighting for not only equal access to affordable, effective contraception but also to education about birth control.
Insurance coverage and affordability is a significant barrier in equal access to contraception. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidelines requiring all new health insurance plans to cover a range of preventive services with no co-payments, cost sharing, or deductibles. Unfortunately, some women are still unfairly denied coverage.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) included exceptions for religious organizations. However, anti-choice organizations fought to broaden the exceptions and are fighting to undermine the goal of the law—equal access to contraception services. They are filing lawsuits arguing that simply by requesting a an exception to the law, violates their religious freedom.
On June 19, 2012, we submitted comments to the Obama Administration on its proposal to “accommodate” religiously-affiliated organizations that object to covering contraceptive services without cost-sharing, as required under the federal health care law. Women who are subject to the accommodation should have the same seamless access to no-cost contraception as those who are not.
In 2016, the Women’s Law Project signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the National Women’s Law Center in Zubik v. Burwell, a case before the Supreme Court of the United States (named for a bishop based in Pittsburgh). The brief argued that the contraception regulations enable women to control their reproductive lives, providing them equal opportunities to participate in society, achieve their educational and career goals and remain economically secure, and that studies show the significant upfront costs of some forms of contraception are a deterrent for women purchasing them.
The Women’s Law Project has also audited the availability of over-the-counter emergency contraception in Western Pennsylvania, and advocates for comprehensive sex education, as research shows a lack of education on proper contraception use leads to unplanned pregnancies.