WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties), along with 60 original cosponsors, introduced the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act. The bill would align Department of Defense TRICARE health coverage with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), so that all women who receive health care through the armed services have access to FDA approved contraception and counselling services with no health insurance co-pay. This bill is the House companion to S. 2687, recently introduced by Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire.

The Department of Defense provides health care to over 3 million women, including those active duty servicewomen in the armed forces and reserves, non-active duty women, and dependents. Recent studies have shown that women in the military have a higher rate of unplanned pregnancy (50 percent higher) than the general population. The studies have also shown that servicewomen face unique challenges accessing contraception and family planning counselling, especially when deployed.

Although the Women’s Health Amendment to the ACA guarantees civilian women coverage of women’s health preventive services, such as access to generic FDA-approved contraception and counselling without cost sharing, this policy does not apply to many servicewomen and dependents covered through TRICARE.

“The Affordable Care Act established that being a woman is not a preexisting condition,” said Congresswoman Speier. “We owe female servicemembers the same access to contraception and family planning services as the women they fight to protect.”

“Female service members deserve access to the same basic health care as the women they protect, and it is unacceptable that they don’t,” Senator Shaheen said. “We need to make sure women in the military and women who rely on military health care are receiving the comprehensive care they deserve, and that needs to include access to basic preventative health care, including contraception and family planning counseling. Today’s introduction in the House of the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act is an important step forward in doing right by our women in uniform and military families, and it’s time we come together and pass this legislation because women in the military should never have to worry about how they’re going to pay for their contraception.”

“The improvements in this bill are critical to promoting both military readiness and the well-being of our military and military families,” said Nancy Duff Campbell, Co-President of the National Women’s Law Center . “We applaud Representative Speier and all those Members of Congress who support comprehensive contraceptive coverage and family planning education for those who rely on the military for their health care. We call on Congress to quickly pass this legislation.”

"Meeting the health needs of the entire force including service women is critical to the military’s ability to accomplish its mission. SWAN believes that service women deserve nothing less than the best health care available. The Access to Contraception for Women Service Members and Dependents Act of 2014 will ensure service women have access to the full spectrum of health care,” Said Anu Bhagwati, Service Women’s Action Network Executive Director and former Marine Corps Captain. “This new legislation removes barriers to quality care, establishes comprehensive military reproductive health care services and brings fairness and equity, to our servicewomen.”

"The women who put their lives on the line to serve our country deserve to have the same access to contraception and family planning as the rest of us. They and their families sacrifice so much for us. The least we can do is ensure that they have the same rights to decide when and how they have families that all American women enjoy," said Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America

“We applaud Congresswoman Speirer for introducing this legislation, and for all her hard work to expand access to birth control,” said Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “No woman should have to worry about affording prescription birth control - and the women and families who have served our country in the armed forces should have the same access to no-copay birth control as other American women. That’s why we fought so hard for coverage of the full range of contraception methods to be included in the Affordable Care Act and why we’re continuing our work to ensure all women, no matter where they live, work or how much money they have, can access this basic preventive care.”