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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 30, 2011

29,045 Americans Want to Ensure All Women Have Access to Contraception

NARAL Pro-Choice America mobilizes grassroots support for improving women’s access to birth control as the Obama administration accepts comments on a refusal clause

Washington, D.C. - Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, today urged the Obama administration to ensure that all women have access to no-cost birth control, regardless of their employer.

Keenan’s organization submitted comments signed by 29,045 Americans to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS is currently considering a provision that would allow certain religious employers to opt out of a newly established policy requiring newly-issued insurance plans to cover contraception without a copay. NARAL Pro-Choice America and its state affiliates submitted formal comments reinforcing that all women should have access to no-cost contraceptive coverage, regardless of their employer.

“Americans know that birth control is basic health care, and they want all women to benefit from this administration’s decision to follow medical experts’ advice and require insurance companies to cover contraception without a copay,” Keenan said. “The public is united behind this commonsense policy. Improving women’s access to birth control is the best way to prevent unintended pregnancy.”

Keenan also directly addressed the issue of an opt-out for religious employers.

“Birth control is essential for women’s health,” Keenan said . “Family-planning services have been shown to reduce the negative health outcomes strongly associated with unplanned pregnancy.  When women are able to access affordable family-planning services, rates of low-birth-weight births, infant deaths, and neonatal deaths significantly decrease. The proposed exemption could deny these health benefits to some women and their families because it would allow certain religious employers to refuse to cover family-planning services.”

Keenan continued, “The opt-out for religious employers indeed would limit full access to care for many women, undermining the shared interest we all have in improving women’s access to preventative services including birth control.  This is especially true since 98 percent of women, of all faith backgrounds, use contraception at some point in their lives.”

The federal health-care law requires newly issued health plans to cover—at no cost—certain preventive-health services that are specific to women.  Earlier this summer, a panel of leading women’s health experts were appointed to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and were convened by HHS to evaluate key health services for women, recommended that family-planning care, including contraception, be considered preventative care. 

NARAL Pro-Choice America is leading a grassroots public-education and advocacy campaign to build support for the administration’s decision to adopt the IOM panel’s recommendation and ensure that all women are able to access this benefit.

In November 2010, NARAL Pro-Choice America testified before the IOM panel and joined all 21 of its state affiliates in calling for coverage of family-planning services 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 across the country. In June 2011, NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation launched a Facebook application that allows individuals to determine how much money they could save if birth control were available without a copay. In addition, the organization marshaled more than 50,000 Americans to sign a petition urging HHS to make no-cost birth control a reality.

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s comments on the proposal to allow religious employers refuse to offer no-cost contraceptive may be found here.

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Contact:
Samantha Gordon, 202.973.3032


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