U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Joins Efforts to Establish Health Care Equity for Military Women, Dependents

Legislation would provide military women with free contraception, increase family planning resources, and guarantee access to emergency contraception for sexual assault victims

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee,  has joined Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) to re-introduce legislation, the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2015, which would update current Department of Defense’s (DoD) policy on contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling. The bill would bring health care provided by the military in line with current law for civilian populations by ensuring that all women who receive health care through the United States military have access to all FDA-approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay.

“Wisconsin’s women in uniform, or any woman for that matter, should not have to worry about how they will afford basic health care or access to family planning services,” said Baldwin. “I’m proud to join Senator Shaheen in this effort to ensure our military women and their families have the same protections as their civilian counterparts.”   

“The Access to Contraception for Women Service Members and Dependents Act of 2015 will open doors for service women to gain the best health care available,” said Erica Hunt, Service Women’s Action Network Interim CEO. "Having strong, and healthy service members ensures operational and military readiness. Currently servicewomen do not have access to the reproductive health care and education they need and this bill will help meet the health needs of the entire force, including servicewomen, and is critical to the military’s ability to accomplish its mission.”

Studies have shown that the rate of unplanned pregnancy in the military is estimated to be up to 50 percent higher than the unplanned pregnancy rate among civilian women, and the re-introduced legislation addresses contraceptive access and counseling for all women who receive their care through the military and takes steps to ensure that servicewomen have the best possible information about their health care and family planning options, wherever they are serving.

Under the legislation, women receiving health care through the United States military will be guaranteed access to all FDA-approved contraception with no health insurance co-pay, regardless of where they receive it. Additionally, the legislation directs the DoD to develop and implement family planning education for all servicemembers at specific points during their service. Finally, the legislation would also ensure access to emergency contraception for servicewomen who are survivors of military sexual assault so that that they receive the critical and time-sensitive medical counseling and care they may need.