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Shaheen lauds introduction of House companion to her legislation to expand access to contraception for military women, dependents

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) welcomed today’s introduction of House companion legislation to her bill, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014. The bill, introduced in the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) with 58 original cosponsors, would overhaul current Department of Defense (DoD) policy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling by bringing health care provided through the military in line with current law for civilian populations. The legislation would guarantee 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 would require the DoD to develop and implement family planning counseling for all servicewomen at specific points during their service. Shaheen introduced the Senate bill in July. It currently has 22 cosponsors.

“Female servicemembers deserve access to the same basic health care as the women they protect, and it is unacceptable that they don’t,” Senator Shaheen said. “We need to make sure women in the military and women who rely on military health care are receiving the comprehensive care they deserve, and that needs to include access to basic preventative health care, including contraception and family planning counseling. Today’s introduction in the House of the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act is an important step forward in doing right by our women in uniform and military families, and it’s time we come together and pass this legislation because women in the military should never have to worry about how they’re going to pay for their contraception.”

“The Affordable Care Act established that being a woman is not a preexisting condition,” said Congresswoman Speier. “We owe female servicemembers the same access to contraception and family planning services as the women they fight to protect.”

The Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 builds off the Shaheen Amendment, which was signed into law last year, to provide health care equity to women serving in the military. Studies have shown that the rate of unplanned pregnancy in the military is estimated to be up to 50 percent higher than the unplanned pregnancy rate among civilian women. Shaheen’s legislation takes a comprehensive approach to the issue by improving access to contraception for all women who receive their care through the military and ensuring that servicewomen have the best possible information about their health care and family planning options, wherever they are serving. Finally, the legislation would also ensure access to emergency contraception for servicewomen who are survivors of military sexual assault so that that they receive the critical and time-sensitive medical counseling and care they may need. The legislation has received strong support from women’s health advocates