Fetterman introduces legislation to make birth control more convenient

By: - July 20, 2023 11:45 am

Sen. John Fetterman (Photo via Fetterman Senate Office)

U.S. Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., introduced legislation on Thursday that would allow people covered by private health insurers to receive a full year’s supply of their contraception at the time a prescription is issued, rather than the current limit of a three-month supply.

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions is sacred to me. I am proud to lead this first of its kind legislation to expand equitable access to contraceptives,” Fetterman said in a statement. “Convenient and reliable access to contraceptives reduces unintended pregnancies, improves maternal health outcomes, and promotes equity. I will continue fighting to expand contraceptive access and protect reproductive freedom.”

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and more than a dozen Democrats in the Senate joined Fetterman on the legislation, titled the “Convenient Contraception Act,” which is being introduced in the House by Rep. Lauren Underwood D, IL-14.

“If we want to support families, we need to protect access to reliable, affordable contraception,” Casey said in a statement. “This bill will live up to the promise of the Affordable Care Act by reducing the barriers many women, particularly low-income women, face when it comes to family planning and maternal health. This is a commonsense policy to make it easier for women to fill their prescriptions.”

Patients of most private health insurers have to pick up their contraception in monthly or three-month installments— even if a prescription is written to cover a year’s supply– which the lawmakers argue creates an unnecessary burden and can increase the likelihood of gaps in contraceptive protection. For instance, in order to be effective, birth control pills have to be taken regularly.

According to health policy nonprofit the Kaiser Family Foundation, rules vary across states and insurance plans over how much of a prescription a patient can pick up at a pharmacy at one time and prescription length. This legislation would aim to address those inconsistencies, Fetterman said, “improving access to contraception by simply making it more convenient.”

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim Lyons is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications. Follow her on Threads @social_kimly