The Obama administration clarified a provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires employers to make contraceptives available to employees.
According to a post to the Department of Labor website from the Obama administration claryifying certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act, known by many as ‘Obamacare,’ health insurers must cover all 18 forms of contraception listed in the FDA’s birth control guide without cost-sharing.
The FDA has identified 18 different methods of birth control for women, and the Affordable Care Act requires that insurance plans and those who issue them must cover “without cost sharing at least one form of contraception within each method the FDA had identified.” For example, the category of hormonal contraceptives includes all oral, injectables, implants, vaginal contraceptive rings, the contraceptive patch, emergency birth control options like the Plan B pill, emergency contraception, and IUDs that use progstin.
There has been massive backlash from opponents of the Affordable Care Act surrounding its contraceptive provisions. Many employers refused to observe the mandate, claiming that their religious beliefs forbid the use of birth control. A recent high-profile Supreme Court case, 2014’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, found that companies who object to birth control on religious grounds would be exempt from the mandate within the ACA.
Obama came up with a compromise, allowing insurers to provide birth control directly to women who wanted access to it, rather than having to go through their employers. Some employers still objected to the compromise – claiming that signing a document exempting them from the responsibility of providing access to contraception still implicitly constituted their approval. Some employers really don’t want to provide contraception to their employees, no matter what.
While the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists objects to any form of contraception that is effective after fertilization takes place, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund stated that access to contraceptives has led to a 40-year low in teen pregnancies in the U.S.