Hirono and colleagues unveil bill to expand affordable over-the-counter birth control

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During a speech in the US Senate on May 9, Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) advocated for abortion rights. Speech screenshot

Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined her colleagues Patty Murray (D-WA) and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) to introduce the Affordability is Access Act. The measure aims to help ensure people across the country can access and afford over-the-counter birth control options and “plan their own reproductive lives, on their own terms.”

The bills come as the Supreme Court looks set to overturn Roe v. Wade and eliminate women’s constitutional right to abortion.

Complementary legislation was introduced in the House by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ami Bera, MD (D-CA).

“Women have the right to control their bodies and their future, including if, when and how to start a family. With far-right Republican governors and state legislatures passing archaic abortion bans and a radical Supreme Court poised to overturn 50 years of precedent, we must ensure that every person can access and afford control of births,” Senator Hirono said in a press release. Release. “There is an all-out assault on reproductive freedom – and we are just weeks away from women across the country waking up to find they no longer have the constitutional right to abortion. We are fighting back, and it starts with passing this legislation.

She said Democrats are working to make sure people can get the birth control they need without having to pay out of pocket or jump through unnecessary hoops.

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The Affordability is Access Act would ensure that once the FDA determines an over-the-counter birth control option is safe, it approves it without delay – and would guarantee that insurers would then fully cover birth control in free sale without any out-of-pocket costs. “The legislation responds to the reality that for many, especially those on the tightest budgets, true access requires affordability,” the statement said.

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A new survey released this week shows bipartisan support for expanding access to birth control: 71% of Americans say they support the sale of over-the-counter birth control, and 84% say it’s important to expand access to birth control, with Supreme Court set to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

The Accessibility Act is intended to implement the following:

  • Ensure coverage of comprehensive preventive health services and expand coverage to include full access to over-the-counter oral contraception for daily routine use for all. All private health insurance plans are now required to cover all birth control methods approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The law would ensure coverage for all oral contraceptives that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine daily use without a prescription.
  • Maintain the sole authority of the FDA to determine the safety and effectiveness of drugs and make them available over the counter without a prescription. It is imperative that entities researching and developing oral contraceptives, and whose medical and scientific experts have developed clinical and other evidence that birth control pills are safe and effective when sold without a prescription, ask the FDA to review and approve the sale without a prescription.

    Upon receipt of such a request, the FDA must determine whether the contraceptive product meets the rigorous standards of safety, efficacy, and quality for over-the-counter use, as established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. . If the product meets these standards, the FDA must approve the application without delay.

  • Ensure that retailers offer oral contraceptives without a prescription. The law states that any retailer who stocks oral contraceptives that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine daily use without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraceptive.

In addition to Senators Hirono, Murray and Cortez Masto, the Senate bill is also co-sponsored by: Senators Brown (D-OH), Baldwin (D-WI), Reed (D-RI), Schatz (D-HI ), Blumenthal (D-CT), Markey (D-MA), Smith (D-MN), Menendez (D-NJ), Kaine (D-VA), Merkley (D-OR), Sanders (D-VT) , Cantwell (D-WA), Whitehouse (D-RI), Gillibrand (D-NY), Heinrich (D-NM), Klobuchar (D-MN), Wyden (D-OR), Stabenow (D-MI), Booker (D-NJ), Rosen (D-NV), Warren (D-MA), Shaheen (D-NH), Duckworth (D-IL), Hassan (D-NH), Bennet (D-CO), Feinstein (D-CA), Peters (D-MI), Padilla (D-CA), Leahy (D-VT) and Murphy (D-CT).

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The legislation is endorsed by: Power to Decide, Catholics for Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, National Women’s Law Center, Reproductive Health Access Project, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Justice, URGE: Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, Contraceptive Access Initiative, NARAL Pro-Choice America, American Atheists, American Public Health Association, National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, National Partnership for Women & Families, Upstream USA, Center for Reproductive Rights, National Association of Nurse Practitioners in Women’s Health, Population Connection Action Fund, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, National Health Law Program, Coalition to Expand Contraceptive Access, Advocates for Youth and Ibis Reproductive Health.

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