Federal Bill Would Ensure Military Servicemembers, Dependents Have Equal Access to Birth Control

(PRESS RELEASE) The Center for Reproductive Rights supports a federal bill that would guarantee all people who rely on the military for their health care—including active and non-active duty servicemembers and dependents—have comprehensive coverage for contraceptives and family-planning counseling.

The bill, reintroduced today by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA), would also ensure that servicemembers receive comprehensive family-planning education, and would improve access to emergency contraception for servicemembers who have been sexually assaulted.

Said Sara Outterson, Senior Federal Legislative Counsel of the Center for Reproductive Rights:

“Servicemembers—who have committed their lives to serving our country—deserve nothing less than equal and affordable access to comprehensive contraceptive services for themselves and their families.

“With the vast majority of servicewomen being of reproductive age, the benefits of expanding coverage of contraception and family planning services for those who rely on the military for their health care couldn’t be clearer.”

The “Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2019” would bring the military’s health insurance program, known as TRICARE, in line with the copay-free contraceptive coverage required in most health insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. Under the proposed legislation, the over 1.5 million women of reproductive age eligible for TRICARE would have the same birth control coverage as civilian federal employees and those who rely on private insurance coverage.

Women represent 17 percent of all active duty and reserve members of the military, with 95 percent being of reproductive age. Currently, active-duty military have no cost-sharing for any prescriptions, but certain non-active-duty military and dependents must pay cost-sharing for birth control acquired outside a military treatment facility. ​