Shaheen Introduces Legislation to Safeguard Patients’ Access to Birth Control

April 18, 2019

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) recently reintroduced the Access to Birth Control Act with Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), legislation that would guarantee patients’ timely access to birth control at the pharmacy.

“We must ensure that patients have timely access to birth control, which is a critical component of reproductive health care and basic family planning,” said Senator Shaheen. “This legislation will safeguard women’s personal health decisions from being infringed on, and will ensure that they are able to access the reproductive care they need and deserve.”

Contraception is an essential part of reproductive health care, and patients who need this care should be able to access it in a timely manner. However, there have been reports of pharmacies in at least 25 states that have refused to dispense contraception to patients. The Access to Birth Control Act would ensure that pharmacies provide a contraceptive or a medication related to a contraceptive to a patient without delay, or assist the patient in accessing their medication elsewhere if it is out of stock. 

“There’s no question we need proactive legislation at a time when the Trump-Pence Administration continues to attack our access to health care,” Fatima Goss Graves, President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC), said. “The Access to Birth Control Act is brave legislation that prioritizes patients’ health and ensures women can access the birth control they need. No patient should ever be denied care based on the personal – not medical – beliefs of their pharmacist. Family planning is central to good health care, and we’ll continue to support legislation that boldly recognizes that.”

The bill’s reintroduction comes on the heels of a final rule the Trump administration issued earlier this year that would threaten Title X patients’ access to a full range of contraception methods and other family planning services. Since coming into office, the Trump administration has repeatedly moved to decrease access to health care, including comprehensive reproductive care and family planning services. 

The Access to Birth Control Act is cosponsored by Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).  

In the House, companion legislation introduced by Representative Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY) is cosponsored by Representatives Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jackie Speier (D-CA), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Gerald Connolly (D-VA), and Peter DeFazio (D-OR).

The Access to Birth Control Act is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Black Women’s Health Imperative, Center for Reproductive Rights, Guttmacher Institute, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, NARAL Pro-Choice America, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, National Council of Jewish Women, National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, National Women’s Law Center, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Population Connection Action Fund, Population Institute, and the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the U.S. (SIECUS).