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08.01.12 - (PRESS RELEASE) Today marks the beginning of a landmark expansion of affordable preventive and reproductive health services for millions of women across the United States, as the roll-out of the women’s preventive services benefit under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act starts Aug 1.
The Affordable Care Act—which was signed into law over two years ago and recently upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court—vastly expands women’s access to copay-free preventive health care, including contraception, cancer screenings, HIV and STI testing, well-woman visits, breastfeeding support, and prenatal care. Most employers will now be required to cover these services without copay when they renew their employee insurance policies.
Said Nancy Northup, president and CEO at the Center for Reproductive Rights:
“Starting today, millions of women and their families will have access to a great many critical health care services they need, but in too many cases could not afford before. No longer will a woman have to choose between paying for her monthly birth control prescription and other living expenses like rent, groceries, or child care.
“Nearly half of all pregnancies in this country are unintended, and better access to affordable contraception will reduce unintended pregnancies by the millions and save American taxpayers billions of dollars every year.
“Yet this landmark public health benefit remains under assault by various groups and organizations that seek broad authority to refuse coverage for these essential services based on their religious, moral, and ideological beliefs.
“We believe that conscience rights belong to individuals, not institutions—and those fundamental individual liberties must be staunchly defended so that no woman’s health care is dependent on where she happens to work.”
Just today, more than 170 law professors and legal experts across the country—from distinguished and respected higher education institutions—such as Yale University, Stanford University, and Columbia University—signed on to a joint letter to President Barack Obama and congressional leadership voicing their support for the expanded preventive benefit, noting that “nothing in our nation’s history or laws permits a boss to impose his or her religious views on non-consenting employees.”