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WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. House voted to pass the Equal Access to Contraception for Veterans Act (H.R. 239), legislation that would ensure veterans have access to no-copay contraception, much like their civilian counterparts. 

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:  

“Veterans, like their civilian counterparts, rely on birth control for their health, for their livelihoods, and for their ability to determine their own futures. Limits on who can access no-copay birth control most hurt those who have always faced systemic barriers to health care, including Black, Latino, and Indigenous people. It is mind-boggling that any member of Congress would vote against veterans having the same access to health care as people who have not served in the armed forces. Planned Parenthood thanks House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health Chairwoman Julia Brownley for standing up for reproductive rights and the nation’s veterans by moving to end this unequal treatment."

Birth control is not controversial: Nearly nine in 10 women of reproductive age have used contraception, and nearly 9 in 10 adults agree that everyone deserves access to the full range of birth control methods — no matter who they are, where they live, and what their economic status is. The Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit expanded contraceptive coverage with no out-of-pocket costs for more than 64 million women. Under this benefit, most private insurance plans must cover all FDA-approved female-controlled birth control methods and related education or counseling without cost-sharing. However, the ACA does not extend to Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) care, and veterans covered by the VA must still pay a copay for their contraception.

Providing veterans with less access to health care than the general population is unethical under any circumstance, but the COVID-19 pandemic has made it all the more urgent that we end this disparity. This VA policy compounds the economic hardships many veterans face during the pandemic. Small copays can be prohibitive for veterans struggling to make ends meet. Studies show that the costs associated with contraception, even when small, lead some women to forgo it completely, to choose less effective methods, or to use it inconsistently. The ability to control if and when to have children is crucial for people’s financial security, advancement, and — in times of economic turmoil —  recovery. 

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Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable sexual and reproductive health care for all people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect, and without judgment, striving to create equitable access to health care. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable education and information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives. Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that supports the independently incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates operating health centers across the U.S.