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January 12, 2024

King Joins Bipartisan Push for Military Families to Receive Quality Reproductive Healthcare

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has joined bipartisan legislation to ensure military families receive the same access to quality reproductive health care as most Americans. The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would bring military families’ health care in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring access to all forms of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with no health insurance co-pay. The legislation would also guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request and require the Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a comprehensive family planning education program.

The Department of Defense provides health care to millions of women of reproductive age, including servicemembers, guardsmen, reservists, spouses and dependents. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) guarantees that employer-sponsored and marketplace health plans cover preventive services for civilians without cost sharing – including all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, counseling and related services – these protections do not apply to coverage through TRICARE, a health care program for uniformed servicemembers and their families. Due to this disparity, active duty service members and dependents of servicemembers are particularly impacted.

“Women across the nation should have the ability to make personal medical decisions without the input or permission of government officials. Yet, the Supreme Court majority rejected this fundamental right—after nearly fifty years of precedent—in favor of its own political and religious agenda, and opened the door to continued attacks on reproductive rights nationwide,” said Senator King. “The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would ensure that women service members, who make up approximately 17% of active duty military, and their dependents have access to reproductive care—no matter where they are stationed as part of their service to the United States. Our service members should not be forced to needlessly risk their personal health and safety for routine health care simply because they pledged to protect and defend our nation.”

The Access to Contraception for Servicemembers and Dependents Act would:

  • Require that all people enrolled in TRICARE have coverage of contraceptives without cost-sharing, the same as civilians;
  • Require the Department of Defense to develop a comprehensive family planning education program for all servicemembers, ensuring that military families have the information necessary to make informed decisions; and
  • Guarantee access to emergency contraception for survivors of sexual assault upon their request.

U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Mark Kelly (D-AZ), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Tina Smith (D-MN), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) are cosponsors of this bipartisan legislation.

Senator King has been a strong supporter of a woman’s right to reproductive healthcare. He opposed the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade calling it “a dangerous, blatantly political ruling that will rob millions of women the fundamental right to make decisions about their own health, safety, and lives.” Prior to the Supreme Court’s ruling, King voted to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation which would codify the longstanding precedent of Roe v. Wade into federal law and protect the right to these vital healthcare decisions. Most recently, he sent a letter to the Secretary of Defense highlighting the wide-ranging implications of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade, and the challenges that restrictive abortion laws pose to servicemember health and finances, military readiness, recruitment, and retention.

Bill text of the legislation is available here.


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