GOP Legislation Expands Birth Control Access (But Not Really) 


On Thursday, Republican Senators Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) announced that they would sponsor legislation that would essentially let common forms of birth control (i.e. the pill) to be sold over the counter. According to the Huffington Post, The Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act would waive the FDA filing fee that birth control manufacturers pay, thus deregulating common forms of contraception into an OTC drug.

“It’s time to allow women the ability to make their own decisions about safe, effective, and long-established methods of contraception. Most other drugs with such a long history of safe and routine use are available for purchase over the counter, and contraception should join them,” Garner said in a statement.

Great — if not totally surprising — news, right? Advocates have long argued that birth control should be more accessible, and allowing it to be sold OTC would be a sizeable step in that direction.

But it seems like Gardner and Ayotte’s proposal is a sneaky way to effectively end Obamacare’s mandatory contraception coverage.

Via the Huffington Post:

[…] the proposal also represents a GOP end run around the Affordable Care Act provision that requires most employers to cover the full range of contraception at no cost to women. Republicans have long opposed and even pledged to repeal that rule because they claim it violates the religious freedom rights of employers who are morally opposed to birth control.
The mandatory contraception coverage under Obamacare applies only to birth control that requires a prescription. So if this bill resulted in various forms of routine-use contraception being sold over the counter, they would not have to be covered by insurance.

The Denver Post reports that the legislation has already been criticized by groups ranging from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to NARAL and Planned Parenthood.

Image via Shutterstock.

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