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U.S. President is confirming an administrative ruling growing key to birth control

June 26, 2023: President Joe Biden will inscribe a wide-ranging administrative ruling to defend and increase access to contraception, his administration’s latest attempt to shore up reproductive rights as abortion restrictions rise in many states.

The White House announced the order one day shy of the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to change the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, establishing the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. in 1973.

Justice Clarence Thomas presented in a concurring opinion that the nation’s highest court should revisit similar cases, including those guaranteeing access to contraception.

“Contraception is an important way of reproductive health care that has only become more important in the wake of [the Supreme Court decision] and the ensuing crisis in women’s access to health care,” the White House stated in a press release.

The president’s executive order directs the secretaries of the Treasury, Labor Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure private health insurers cover all contraceptives stated by the Food and Drug Administration, a requirement under the Affordable Care Act.

That 2010 health law, also known as Obamacare, requires most insurance plans to cover at least one type of contraceptive per category without a copay. The FDA approves 18 contraceptive methods.

The president’s order does not suggest a timeline for shoring up that access and does not direct federal departments to consider new requirements to codify access to birth control.

Contraception is widely used in the U.S. Approximately 65% of women ages 15 to 49 used birth control from 2017 to 2019, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated. 

The most common contraceptive methods used during that period were female sterilization, oral contraceptive pills, and condoms, the CDC said.

Two Democratic lawmakers this month relaunched legislation to codify contraception access.

The executive order comes as the battle over abortion rights further polarizes the U.S. That includes a legal fight over mifepristone, one of the two pills involved in a medication abortion.

A group of anti-abortion doctors sued the FDA last November to pull mifepristone from the U.S. market entirely.

U.S. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk in the Northern District of Texas ruled in the doctors’ favor in April and suspended the FDA approval. As the litigation played out, the Supreme Court intervened and preserved access to mifepristone.

More than a dozen states have also implemented abortion restrictions since the Roe v. Wade decision last year, with some laws criminalizing the procedure as early as six weeks into pregnancy.

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