Shaheen Leads Bipartisan Push to Provide Quality Reproductive Health Care to Military Families
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, led a group of Senators on bipartisan legislation – the Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act – to ensure military families receive the quality reproductive health care they deserve.
Though Shaheen has historically led the legislation in previous years, this renewed bipartisan effort is more important than ever amid the unprecedented reversal of Roe v. Wade and numerous anti-reproductive health care laws that have been enacted across the nation. Shaheen has repeatedly addressed the unique and adverse implications that anti-reproductive health care laws will have on servicewomen and military families.
Specifically, Shaheen's bill would bring health care provided to servicemembers in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring those who receive health care through the military have access to all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with no health insurance co-pay. The legislation would also guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request and require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program.
“The onslaught of attacks on women’s reproductive health across the country have made comprehensive health care services, including contraception, uncertain in some cases and inaccessible in others. This is especially concerning for servicewomen and military families who have no control over where they are stationed and are fully reliant on TRICARE and the Department of Defense to provide the affordable, safe health care that is determined by individuals and their doctors. That’s why this legislation is so important,” said Shaheen. “There is a real urgency to get this legislation over the finish line in Congress to keep contraception within reach for military families, who should not be forced to pay more than the civilians they’re sworn to protect. We must ensure that military families have access to the full scope of health care services that they need to stay healthy – that is the least we can do for those serving and sacrificing for our nation.”
The Department of Defense provides health care to millions of women of reproductive age, including servicemembers, guardsmen, reservists, spouses and dependents. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans cover preventive services for civilians without cost sharing, including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, counseling and related services, these protections do not apply to coverage through TRICARE, a health care program for uniformed servicemembers and their families. Due to this disparity, active duty service members and dependents of servicemembers are particularly impacted.
The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would:
- Require that all people enrolled in TRICARE have coverage of contraceptives without cost-sharing, the same as civilians;
- Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all servicemembers, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed decisions; and
- Guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request.
Senators Collins (R-ME), Hirono (D-HI), Warren (D-MA), Stabenow (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ), Hassan (D-NH), Gillibrand (D-NY), Bennet (D-CO), Tester (D-MT), Blumenthal (D-CT), Kelly (D-AZ), Baldwin (D-WI), Kaine (D-VA), Murray (D-WA), Durbin (D-IL), Brown (D-OH), Sanders (I-VT), Smith (D-MN) and Wyden (D-OR) are cosponsors.
Senator Shaheen is an unrelenting advocate for women’s reproductive rights. A senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, in 2013, Shaheen included an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which expanded access to abortion care for servicewomen to bring the Department of Defense to parity with other Federal agencies. Last year, Shaheen offered an amendment to the fiscal year (FY) 2023 NDAA that would have enshrined the right for servicemembers to access protected leave for abortion care and services. Since the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, 19 states have enacted total or partial abortion bans, limiting access to essential reproductive care for thousands of active-duty service women stationed in the continental United States. In March, Shaheen led a letter to Pentagon leadership underscoring the national security imperative to provide abortion leave for servicemembers.
Bill text of the legislation is available here.