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Reproductive Freedom

Military Women Deserve Reproductive Health Care

Female Service Members
News & Analysis

Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Representative Jackie Speier are standing up for reproductive health care by sponsoring the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act. This legislation, which was first introduced in July 2014, seeks support and access for military women when it comes to their reproductive health. It would make no-copay birth control available to non-active duty military women and female dependents who seek care outside military treatment facilities. It would also update the contraceptive coverage of TRICARE (a military health care program), promote better access to emergency contraception, and improve access to comprehensive family planning counseling.

People For the American Way has joined National Women's Law Center and more than thirty other organizations in supporting the Shaheen-Speier legislation:

[S]ervicemembers and dependents who receive health coverage through the military deserve the highest quality health care to address their reproductive health care needs[;] therefore, we strongly support the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2017.

Together, we are standing up for this critical assurance of not only reproductive health care but also military effectiveness:

Women play a critical role in the U.S. military and currently constitute just over 15 percent of all active duty military members, with more than 200,000 women serving on active duty in the Armed Forces or in the Selected Reserve. More than 95 percent of women serving in the military are of reproductive age. An additional 1.1 million female spouses and dependents of active duty military personnel who rely on the military for health coverage are of reproductive age.

Meeting the reproductive health care needs of servicemembers is critical to ensuring military readiness and mission accomplishment. Recent studies have shown that women in the military have a rate of unplanned pregnancy that is higher than the general population. Unintended pregnancies interfere with servicewomen’s ability to complete their missions, since pregnant women cannot deploy and must be evacuated from war zones. Studies have also shown that servicewomen face unique challenges accessing contraception and family planning counseling, especially when deployed.