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Ruling leaves birth control benefit in place for millions of women but gives some employers the new right to deny coverage

DES MOINES, IA — This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of two corporations that argued they should not have to provide insurance coverage for their employees’ birth control (as required by the Affordable Care Act) because of the business owners’ personal religious beliefs. The Court said that when corporations are “closely held” by a family or a small number of people, and it can be shown that the owners operate the business consistently with those religious beliefs, then the corporations can be exempted from federal laws that burden those religious beliefs.

“Today’s decision is another disappointing blow to women’s health care,” said Penny Dickey, interim CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland. “It’s troubling that the Supreme Court has given some employers the right to interfere with their employees’ access to birth control. It’s troubling that in 2014 we’re still fighting for women to have access to basic, preventive care no matter where they live, who they work for, or how much money they make.

“At Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, we know firsthand how important it is that women be able to get the method of birth control that works for them. When employers refuse to cover birth control as a part of their employees' benefits, this becomes a health care issue AND an economic issue for a woman and her family, especially if she is struggling to make ends meet.

“We hope most businesses will do the right thing and let women make their own health care decisions, and we’ll continue fighting for women’s access to affordable, basic health care.”

Planned Parenthood Action Fund has condemned today’s Supreme Court ruling. Following is a statement from Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“Today, the Supreme Court ruled against American women and families, giving bosses the right to discriminate against women and deny their employees access to birth control coverage. This is a deeply disappointing and troubling ruling that will prevent some women, especially those working hourly-wage jobs and struggling to make ends meet, from getting birth control.

“This ruling does not strike down the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. Today, more than 30 million women are eligible for birth control with no co-pay thanks to this benefit, and the vast majority of them will not be affected by this ruling. But for those who are affected, this ruling will have real consequences.

“We urge Congress to act and protect women’s access to birth control, regardless of the personal views of their employer.”


After decades of discriminatory coverage by insurance companies, the birth control benefit requires all insurance policies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost to women — rightly categorizing birth control as part of women’s basic preventive care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 30 million women nationally are already eligible for this benefit. When the law is fully implemented, 47 million women nationally will have access to no-copay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

Thanks to the birth control benefit, women already have saved $483 million in the last year alone. Studies also show that women who receive birth control with no co-pay or at a reduced cost are able to avoid more than two million unplanned pregnancies each year, which also reduces the need for abortion. It’s not surprising that the public overwhelmingly supports the birth control benefit by a nearly two-to-one margin.

Planned Parenthood has several resources, including a white paper and animated whiteboard video that provide background on the birth control benefit and what’s at stake with the Supreme Court case. A “Birth Control: We All Benefit” booklet includes 50 inspiring stories from women across the United States.

Birth control is tremendously important to women for all kinds of reasons, including the need to control certain medical conditions and to plan our families. Under the birth control benefit, women have access to this important preventive care at no cost.

- The wide availability of birth control has been an enormous benefit for countless women and their families — enabling them to support themselves financially, complete their education, and plan their families and have children when they’re ready.

- Virtually all (99 percent) American women between the ages of 15 and 44 who are sexually active have used birth control at some time.

- A 2010 survey found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford prescription birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. This isn’t surprising considering copays for birth control pills typically range between $15 and $50 per month — up to $600 per year.

- Other methods, such as IUDs, can cost several hundred dollars, even with health insurance. For the first time, under the birth control benefit, IUDs are now fully covered by insurance companies without additional out-of-pocket expense.

- For many women, birth control is used for a host of health care reasons. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 58 percent of birth control pill users cite health benefits as a contributing factor for using the birth control pill, including treating endometriosis, menstrual pain, and menstrual regulation.


Planned Parenthood of the Heartland has served women and men of all ages since the 1930s. Today the agency offers a full range of quality reproductive health care services to residents in Arkansas, Iowa, Nebraska and eastern Oklahoma through 19 health centers plus Education Resource Centers in Des Moines, Lincoln and Omaha.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.


Planned Parenthood of the Heartland


Contact: Angie Remington, Public Relations Manager, 515.249.6084


July 01, 2014