Democratic Representatives Ayanna Pressley (Massachusetts) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (New York) are making moves so that people can access birth control more easily and affordable. Pressley introduced the Affordability Is Access act, which would require insurance companies to cover oral contraception, such as daily birth control pills, and have them available over the counter without the need for a doctor’s prescription, reports Huffington Post.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurance plans are required to cover any contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The new legislation would ensure that the FDA approve “without delay” birth control pills to be sold over the counter, and require that such pills be covered by insurance without cost-sharing, such as deductibles or copays, making them free to those who are insured. “Reproductive justice is not only a healthcare issue, it is also an economic issue and a civil rights issue,” Pressley said. “At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, it is more critical than ever that we take bold steps to reaffirm reproductive rights for all Americans.”
Added co-sponsor Ocasio-Cortez, “It is a brutal form of oppression to seize control of the one essential thing a person should command: their own body. Women should have the right to own and control their own bodies.” Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates also co-sponsored a companion bill from Senator Patty Murray (Washington) in the Senate last Thursday ― including Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kamala Harris (D-California), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). The legislation comes as several states have moved to severely restrict abortion rights ― including Georgia and Alabama, which recently approved some of the nation’s most severe limits on abortion.
Earlier last week, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) tweeted at Ocasio-Cortez that they should “team up” on efforts to make birth control over-the-counter. A Slate analysis pointed out that some conservative politicians have expressed support for making contraceptive pills over the counter in the past, likely because they don’t want insurance to have to pay for contraception ― a flashpoint for politicians and constituents of the religious right. The new bill, however, ensures that while birth control would be available over the counter, the pills would still be fully covered by insurance. Cruz does not appear as a co-sponsor on the bill. About a dozen states allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control on site, making pills more accessible and still affordable, as they are covered by insurance