On Wednesday, November 17, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Rep. Robin Kelly, and Rep Katie Porter in the House and Sen. Cory Booker and Sen. Patty Murray in the Senate introduced the Access to Birth Control Act to ensure that customers attempting to access birth control at pharmacies cannot be turned away.
According to Rewire News, “thanks to the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit, approximately 64.3 million women in 2020 had coverage of the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods without cost-sharing.”
However, pharmacists in 24 states and DC have refused customers trying to purchase emergency contraception or have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control.
The bill states that one-third of women have faced delays in accessing their birth control because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I am proud to lead my colleagues in reintroducing the Access to Birth Control Act to ensure patients seeking birth control can access their health care without unnecessary barriers or delay,” Maloney said in a statement. “During the Trump administration, some health-care providers—including pharmacists—denied patients care simply based on their personal views. Health-care providers must do their jobs based on science—not ideology—and we cannot let this dangerous trend continue.”
Since its introduction today, the bill has earned support from over 120 lawmakers and is endorsed by over 50 advocacy organizations.
“People’s access to birth control should never be restricted by a pharmacy employee’s personal beliefs,” Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of National Women’s Law Center, said in a statement. “We’re glad to support this bill that will make sure everyone can leave a pharmacy with the birth control they need, without discrimination, harassment, or delay. At a time when extremist politicians are trying every way possible to take away our reproductive health care, it’s urgent to secure federal protections like the ABC Act.”
Lawmakers strategically chose to introduce this bill today on Thanks Birth Control Day, a campaign by Power to Decide to provide space for people to express gratitude and share their stories with contraception. Each year on November 17, activists storm social media to talk about the need for expanding access to birth control.
Sources: Rewire News Group 11/17/21; The Hill 11/17/21