Though birth control has overwhelming support across the United States, Justice Clarence Thomas continues to challenge access to contraception. In recent news, however, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has actually been able to reaffirm contraceptive coverage. President Biden issued an Executive Order on July 28, 2022, which ensured that people would have access to reproductive healthcare by clarifying the coverage and protections they have under the ACA and what family planning facilities were available to them at no cost. The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), teamed with the Department of Labor and Department of Treasury, clarified that contraception and birth control coverage is guaranteed under the ACA to everyone and comes at no additional cost to patients who use them. They have also stressed inclusiveness and equity in healthcare and under the ACA as the HHS works to strengthen non-discriminatory practices in medicine.
The Trump-Pence administration made it their goal to ensure that birth control coverage could be seen as “optional” to entities that provided health insurance in accordance with the ACA. These restrictions on the ACA, which previously mandated that birth control and contraceptives be completely covered as health insurance, paved the way for rulings like the “Domestic Gag Rule” that limited what Title X patients could obtain. This ruling, implemented in 2019, severely restricted Title X by ensuring that health care officials and workers couldn’t counsel patients in regards to abortion or even refer them to abortion facilities. The previous administration worked hard to ensure that basic contraceptives were not covered under the ACA, which caused a number of difficulties until the Biden-Harris administration finally repealed rules like the Domestic Gag Rule in 2021.
With the overturn of Roe v. Wade and the continued attack on abortion and reproductive healthcare across the US, it is critical that access to birth control and contraceptives are always available at no additional cost. The recent executive order clarifies that birth control, reproductive and preventative services like emergency contraceptives, barrier methods, implanted devices (IUDs, etc), Patient education and counseling, and more are all covered under the ACA. This reverses several of the restrictions from the Trump administration as the HHS, Departments of Labor and Treasury, and Biden-Harris administration continue to work to ensure that access to contraceptives are never again at risk the way abortion care currently is.