FFRF endorses military ‘access to contraception’ bill

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has joined a coalition supporting the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 introduced Aug 1 by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H. The bill has 14 Senate co-sponsors.

FFRF, a state-church watchdog and equal-rights advocate based in Madison, Wis. (with more than 21,000 members nationwide) and more than 30 other groups have signed a July 30 letter to Shaheen supporting her bill. Women make up about 16 percent of the military.

“This bill would ensure that confidential, comprehensive and medically accurate family-planning counseling becomes a guaranteed health service for servicewomen, and is offered by medical providers that have the most up-to-date, evidenced-based information regarding the full range of contraceptive methods available,” the letter notes.

It also requires TRICARE (Defense Department-sponsored health insurance) to offer coverage of all FDA-approved methods of contraception with no cost-sharing. That would give the nearly 5 million women eligible for TRICARE the same coverage as other federal employees and those with private insurance.

The bill would also improve servicewomen’s access to emergency contraception in two ways: (1) by codifying Defense Department regulations that military treatment facilities offer survivors of sexual assault information on emergency contraception; (2) requires military treatment facilities to sexual assault survivors emergency contraception upon her request. 

About one-fourth of FFRF’s membership is made up of active or retired veterans.

“For far too long, religiously motivated people opposed to reproductive choice have denied equal-access birth control for women in the military,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “This bill will ensure that they receive basic reproductive health care.”

A fact sheet on the bill is here

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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