RETIRED MILITARY OFFICIALS, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH EXPERTS ENDORSE SHAHEEN LEGISLATION EXPANDING ACCESS TO CONTRACEPTION FOR MILITARY WOMEN, DEPENDENTS

July 30, 2014

Retired military officials and reproductive health experts are rallying behind Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)’s legislation, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014, that would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations. The bill would ensure that all women who receive health care through the United States military have access to all FDA-approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay and also require the Department of Defense to develop and implement family planning counseling for all servicewoman at specific points during her service.

“It’s an honor to have so much support behind our effort to expand access to contraception and family planning counseling for women who get their health insurance from the military,” said Shaheen. “Female service members deserve access to the same basic health care as the women they protect. It’s unacceptable that they don’t.”

“With women now comprising 15% of the Armed Forces, Congress and the Department of Defense must re-examine military health services and provide service women and military families with the highest quality health care available, including access to the full spectrum of reproductive health services. Contraceptive access and education is critical in ensuring the strength and readiness of the US military. Senator Shaheen's legislation removes barriers to quality care, establishes comprehensive military reproductive health care services and brings fairness and equity to our servicewomen. The provision providing emergency contraception following a sexual assault is of particular importance, as the military's Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) kits currently do not provide this." -Anu Bhagwati, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) Executive Director and former Marine Corps Captain

“Comprehensive family planning counseling and education for servicemembers is woefully lacking, and this shortfall undercuts their ability to make informed decisions about their health care needs. This bill gives our troops the tools they need to make those decisions and will certainly help increase the health of our servicewomen and overall readiness of our armed forces.” -Sherry M. de Vries, Lt. Col., USMC (Ret.)

“I strongly support the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014.  It should be a no brainer that women who rely on TRICARE have standard contraceptive coverage - all FDA-approved contraceptive methods and any related education and counseling without cost sharing - that other women now have under the Affordable Care Act.  Contraception, the key to family planning, is basic preventive health care for women that is critical to military readiness.  Can we afford anything less?" -Glenna Tinney, Captain (Ret.), United States Navy

“More than 350,000 women serve on Active Duty in the armed forces or in the Selected Reserve and put their lives and limbs at risk to safeguard our freedom. They deserve the same access to care as the people they protect. Senator Shaheen’s bill ensures that our servicemembers, and dependent family members who serve and sacrifice equally, have the same healthcare coverage, including contraceptive coverage, provided to all other women enrolled in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan.” -Donna Barbisch, Major General, US Army (Ret.)

“The unintended pregnancy rate among women in the military is significantly higher than in the general U.S. population. Unwanted and mistimed pregnancy can have negative health consequences for women and their children and disrupt women’s careers—and it also reduces troop readiness given the growing role that women play in the military. Comprehensive efforts are needed to address the problem of unintended pregnancy, including providing contraceptive counseling to women and education to all members of the military, training of clinicians on evidence-based provision of services, and collection of better data about unintended pregnancy and contraceptive use.” -Dr. Daniel Grossman, Vice President for Research, Ibis Reproductive Health and Assistant Clinical Professor, University of California, San Francisco