Servicemembers and Veterans Face Barriers in Accessing Contraception

Center and partners publish an issue brief examining barriers to care and policy solutions


Primary Content

Servicemembers, veterans and their families face a number of barriers in accessing the contraception they need, particularly as compared to the civilian population. The Center for Reproductive Rights has joined with Power to Decide and the Service Women’s Action Network to develop an issue brief to identify these problems and recommend solutions.

“Our servicemembers sacrifice to defend our country and our Constitution, and they deserve to have high-quality, affordable healthcare, including contraception,” said Freya Riedlin, Federal Policy Counsel for the Center. “But for decades, many servicemembers have had to deal with insufficient access to birth control during deployment and a lack of high-quality family planning education. Non-active duty servicemembers, the dependents of servicemembers, and veterans also often face cost barriers for their contraception.This issue brief discusses recent policy advances that should improve many of these issues, and highlights where there is still work to be done.”

Contraception is an essential part of health care. Beyond allowing people to plan and space pregnancies, birth control can be used for a variety of non-contraceptive benefits, including management of medical conditions such as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, menstrual migraines and endometriosis. For servicemembers, the ability to regulate or suppress menstruation by using birth control can be especially important during deployment.

This new brief on contraception is the second part of the Center’s “Serving Those Who Serve?” series focusing on reproductive care for military personnel, veterans and their families. The first brief in the series addressed access to abortion care.

The brief calls on Congress and the administration to reinforce and build upon DHA guidance in order to improve access to contraception, including by:

  • Eliminating copays for contraception for all servicemembers, their dependents and veterans;
  • Codifying regulations that ensure prompt access to emergency contraception for sexual assault survivors;
  • Ensuring that veterans can receive a full year’s supply of contraception;
  • Codifying the requirement for evidence-based family planning education; and
  • Monitoring implementation of the recent Defense Health Agency instruction to ensure servicemembers receive the full benefits of the new policies.

Read the full issue brief here.

The Center developed this brief in cooperation with:

  • The Service Women’s Action Network, a member-driven organization that acts as a voice for women who have served or are currently serving in the military.
  • Power to Decide, a campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy by ensuring that all young people have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.