FORMERLY PHYSICIANS FOR REPRODUCTIVE CHOICE AND HEALTH

“As a physician and advocate,

I understand the importance of access to a wide range of affordable contraception options. Birth control is essential for the health and well-being of women and their families.”

Margaret Baylson, MD

Contraception

Physicians for Reproductive Health believes that access to contraception is of vital importance to women’s health because it allows them to determine the timing and spacing of pregnancies. In the medical world, we have studied birth control methods and their effects for decades. We know, based on enormous amounts of scientific evidence, that contraception is crucial to women’s well-being, their children’s health, and their ability to educate themselves, achieve career goals, care for and support their families, and otherwise participate in society. As physicians, we see every day how it improves our patients’ lives.

The contraceptives that are most reliable, however, can be too expensive for many women to afford out of pocket. Because we believe every woman should be able to choose from a broad array FDA-approved contraceptives to find the one that meets her health needs, we advocated in support of the Affordable Care Act. We were thrilled when the Supreme Court upheld health care reform in June 2012.

Federal rules are now in effect that require private insurance plans to cover the full cost of preventive health services for women, including contraceptives, without co-pays or any other extra charges. Some institutions--both faith-based and private, secular businesses--are objecting to new federal rules requiring their employees’ health insurance policies to cover contraception. Allowing employers to refuse to offer this benefit is harmful to women and their families, and we believe all women deserve affordable birth control.

Read more about what we’re doing to advocate for better access to contraception for all women.

Related Posts:

Spread the Word: Tell Congress to Restore Access to Birth Control

StanwoodBossHLOn June 30, the United States Supreme Court ignored the science of birth control and the medical needs of women when it sided with for-profit companies like Hobby Lobby. Five justices allowed these companies to deny essential health care that was promised in the Affordable Care Act.

In response to this, Senators Patty Murray and Mark Udall and Representatives Diana DeGette, Louise Slaughter, and Jerry Nadler introduced legislation that restores access to birth control for all women: The Protect Women’s Health from Corporate Interference Act, known informally as the Not My Boss’ Business Act.

The Not My Boss’ Business Act will make it illegal for any company to deny their workers specific health benefits that are required to be covered under federal law, including birth control. This Act will make it clear that bosses cannot discriminate against their female employees, ensuring equal treatment under the law for the tens of thousands of workers whose coverage hangs in the balance.

Tell your members of Congress today to take action on the Not My Boss’ Business Act! And please spread the message on Facebook and Twitter by downloading and sharing this graphic featuring our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood. 

Supreme Court Decision Harms Women’s Health

Dangerous ruling would allow employers to deny health care coverage for contraceptives

New York, NY—In a truly disappointing ruling today, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in favor of a closely held corporation’s right to deny coverage for contraception to employees and their families based on an employer’s personal beliefs.

“Contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families. We are deeply dismayed that the Supreme Court has placed the personal beliefs of the few ahead of the preventive health needs of the many,” said Physicians for Reproductive Health Board Chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH.

Medical evidence and a patient’s needs—not the private beliefs of her employer—should guide the care a woman receives. This ruling could have a devastating effect on many women who may now lose access to the most effective methods of contraception. This includes methods like the intrauterine device (IUD), which has a higher upfront cost and could be rendered unaffordable for many women, especially hourly and low-wage workers. I think of women like my patient, whom I will call Jane, who was a mother of three working two jobs. She had wanted an IUD for some time, but before the Affordable Care Act, she had a $500 deductible that was simply out of her reach. She was so grateful to learn that her insurance now covered it. Having highly effective contraception has allowed Jane to focus on providing for her family. Now, that access can be denied—not for medical reasons but because a boss doesn’t believe in it.”

In January 2014, Physicians for Reproductive Health joined with major medical groups representing a wide spectrum of health care providers to file a brief in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores. The brief argued that employers should not deny coverage for contraception and was referenced by Justice Ginsburg in her dissent at page 24. 

Physicians’ Stories: Insurance Coverage for Contraception Changes Women’s Lives

My patient Michelle, age 25 and newly married, has a severe congenital heart disease. Pregnancy would be life-threatening; Michelle has a 50% chance of dying if she carries a baby to term. She isn't willing to take that risk.

Condoms are effective only 85% of the time, and the pill isn't safe with her heart condition. Together we agreed that the IUD would be best, an extremely safe and effective method that costs $800. Michelle was able to afford it only because her job's insurance paid for it in full.

Physicians at the Supreme Court!

Dr. Lin-Fan WangOn Tuesday, March 25, reproductive health advocacy fellow Dr. Lin-Fan Wang stood on the steps of the Supreme Court and joined colleague organizations and supporters in speaking out on the importance of birth control coverage:

We are here because women are at risk of losing access to birth control. Not because it isn’t safe. Not because it doesn’t work. But because somebody’s boss may not like it. That is bad policy and that is bad medicine.

Read the rest of her speech here. And share this graphic on Facebook and Twitter, using the hashtag #NotMyBossBusiness!

On Monday, Dr. Wang published an opinion piece on Talking Points Memo titled, “The Danger Of Giving Science And Religion Equal Weight On Birth Control Cases”:

When reporting on medical issues, weighing a religious belief as equal to scientific and medical evidence is disingenuous and confusing to the reader. And often there is no opportunity to correct misinformation. As a women’s health care provider, this disappoints and frustrates me.

Update: Watch Dr. Wang’s speech below.

Dr. Nancy Stanwood

On CNN.com, our board chair Dr. Nancy Stanwood coauthored an opinion piece with Dr. Jeanne A. Conry, president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists:

As physicians dedicated to improving the health of women, we ask: Why is contraception still seen as controversial in the face of overwhelming evidence about its benefits? Why is birth control questioned, in this day and age, despite its widespread acceptance and use? In the current debate, science and facts are being drowned out by highly vocal and misinformed voices; as physicians, we must set the record straight.

Read the entire piece here.

Current Leadership Training Academy fellow Dr. Tania Basu published a piece on RH Reality Check titled, “Five Reasons Contraceptive Coverage Is Essential”:

As an OB-GYN and a patient advocate, I want to move the discussion out of the courts for a moment and into my clinic, to focus on the lives of women and their families. I feel an immense sense of responsibility to the women I care for, and part of that responsibility includes advocating for insurance coverage of birth control.

Another current fellow, Dr. Antoinette Danvers, published a letter to the editor in the New York Times:

Contraception is important for women’s health, freedom and equality. We have to protect women’s right to make their own decisions about contraception. I hope the Supreme Court agrees.

Yet another fellow, Dr. Luu Ireland, spoke to the Orange County Register (California) about the importance of contraception access for her own patients.