Media Center: Contraception

Birth control is an essential part of health care for many women and men.  However, the high cost of some contraceptives, lack of awareness about birth control methods, and uneven insurance coverage mean that many Americans are not using contraception or are using it inconsistently. Our physician experts can help you understand the latest advances in contraception, and give an insider’s perspective on the importance of reliable birth control.

What Our Doctors Are Saying

“For my patients, access to contraception is a huge problem. The most effective methods are expensive, and they require a doctor’s visit. In the public clinic where I work, women line up every day for free packages of birth control pills. Even women with insurance struggle to get reliable contraception.”
—Katherine O’Connell, MD, MPH, The New York Times

  • Our ARSHEP program teaches physicians how to talk to adolescents about contraception and features an educational module that trains doctors about giving emergency contraception to adolescent patients
  • Our guide to emergency contraception helps doctors and other healthcare providers answer patients’ questions about this form of birth control

Media Resources:

Medical Groups Issue Amicus Brief in Support of Contraception Access

“Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals.”

New York, NY— The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Physicians for Reproductive Health (Physicians), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Nurses Association, along with other medical groups, have filed an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court in Zubik v. Burwell. In March, the Supreme Court will hear arguments over whether the accommodation offered to religiously affiliated organizations by the Affordable Care Act violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The amicus brief explains that contraception is essential to women’s health and well-being, a critical component of preventive care, and integral to the health of families.

Background: In implementing the contraceptive benefit, the Obama Administration accommodated certain employers with religious objections to birth control by allowing them to opt out of covering it for their employees, provided that they fill out a form notifying their insurer, or the government, of the employer’s objection. If the employer provides such notice, the insurer would then provide coverage to the employee at no cost to the employer. Despite this, several employers have sued the Administration, alleging that the accommodation violates RFRA. Now, the Supreme Court will review seven of these challenges as part of Zubik v. Burwell.

Excerpt of amicus brief: The contraception coverage requirement recognizes that women of childbearing age have unique health needs and that contraception counseling and services are essential components of women’s preventive health care. Decisions concerning contraceptive use, like all health care decisions, should be made by patients in consultation with their health care professionals based on the best interests of the patient. This is best accomplished when contraceptive coverage is provided within the same overall framework as a woman’s other health care services in consultation with a woman’s chosen provider. The accommodation accomplishes this, while at the same time respecting an employer’s sincerely held religious objections to contraception….

Under the accommodation, prescription contraceptives are covered seamlessly and automatically as part of a woman’s health insurance package. If access to appropriate, cost-free contraception is removed from women’s routine health care services or is made more difficult to obtain, the likely result is that many women will simply not use contraception or will use an imperfect form of contraception inconsistently or improperly, with a concomitant increase in unintended pregnancies with all their consequences.  

The amicus brief can be read and downloaded here:

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for March 23.


Doctors Group Outraged at Continued Efforts to Undermine Safe, Legal Health Care

“We should be lauding physicians and clinicians who are on the front lines providing reproductive health care, not punishing the most vulnerable patients they care for.”

New York, NY—The United States Senate is again considering legislation that would prevent Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest reproductive health care provider, from serving Medicaid patients.

Physicians for Reproductive Health Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow Dr. Pratima Gupta said:

“This past weekend, a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs was the target of a vicious attack. We should be lauding physicians and clinicians who are on the front lines providing reproductive health care, not punishing the most vulnerable patients for whom they care. It is high time for this ongoing attempt to discredit reproductive health care providers and to make it harder for my colleagues and me to provide safe, legal care to our patients to end. I am dismayed at the Senate for moving this forward at all, and to do it so soon after three people were killed using the rhetoric that we have seen throughout the fall on Capitol Hill is shocking and downright disrespectful.

“Millions of people each year receive critical lifesaving care from Planned Parenthood, including birth control, cancer screening, and abortion care. Planned Parenthood provides services that patients may not be able to access or afford elsewhere. If supporters of this legislation truly cared about the health of women and families, they would support programs like Title X that increase access to affordable preventive care through trusted health care providers like Planned Parenthood.

“Abortion opponents want to vilify and discredit my friends and colleagues who provide this care by stripping their reimbursement. This was wrong when it started this summer and is even more horrific today. Providers work in an atmosphere of intimidation and harassment and they continue their work because their conscience compels them to do so. It is time for Congress to stand up for these health care providers instead of maligning them. We strongly oppose any attempts to undermine the provision of quality, essential family planning services to all. Doctors and patients need compassion and support, now more than ever.”


Doctors React to Supreme Court Accepting Challenge to Contraceptive Coverage

Concerned that ruling in favor of plaintiffs could deal devastating blow to women’s access to contraception

New York, NY— Today the Supreme Court of the United States announced that it would grant all seven of the challenges to the Affordable Care Act, in which plaintiffs are seeking an exemption from covering contraception for employees as mandated.

In response, Physicians for Reproductive Health board chair Nancy L. Stanwood, MD, MPH said:

“The Affordable Care Act did the right thing for public health and women’s health by ensuring that everyone who needs birth control can get the method that is right for them, without co-pays. If the plaintiffs succeed in their case, countless people will lose this benefit and face costly barriers to accessing affordable contraception. Birth control is a critical component of preventive care.

“And affordability is key to ensuring that people are able to use it and have control over their reproductive lives. We know that when co-pays are removed, women are able to choose a method based on their medical needs, and not on cost alone. Removing co-pays for all methods assures that patients can choose whatever method they need, including long-acting reversible methods, such as the IUD or the implant, that are highly effective but often come with high upfront costs.

“The plaintiffs are seeking to privilege their religious beliefs over the beliefs and health of others. In a modern democracy, this is simply unacceptable. One person’s beliefs should not dictate the health care that another receives. We hope the court uses good sense and finds in favor of good health and good medicine for all.”  


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Doctors Group Praises Supreme Court Ruling Upholding the Affordable Care Act

“This ruling ensures that no woman will need to choose between her family’s financial well-being
and her own health.”

New York, NY—Physicians for Reproductive Health praises today’s ruling in King v. Burwell, upholding the Affordable Care Act 6-3 and confirming that those who have purchased their insurance through the federal exchange can still get tax credits. The Affordable Care Act ensures nearly universal health insurance coverage and guarantees access to critical reproductive health services such as well-woman visits, contraception without cost-sharing, and maternity care.

Physicians for Reproductive Health board chair, Dr. Nancy Stanwood, issued the following statement:

“Access to medical care is fundamental to the well-being of the patients we physicians care for every day. Such access is made possible by affordable health insurance.

“Today’s Supreme Court ruling ensures that the resounding success of the Affordable Care Act will continue — and our nation’s health will be better for it. As doctors in the reproductive health field, we know this law means our patients have access to birth control, well-woman visits, and maternity care, with no added fees.

“An adverse decision from the Court would have put these health benefits out of reach for millions of women. We know firsthand that women often neglect their health needs to pay for other life essentials such as food and housing. This ruling ensures that no woman will need to choose between her family’s financial well-being and her own health. This is a victory for public health and puts families first.”