California Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier believes that women serving in the military should have free birth control and has introduced a bill to make that belief a reality.
The steady increase in the number of women joining the military has brought additional healthcare expenditures to the forefront, most notably contraception. Speier wants to duplicate the language in the Affordable Care Act, which allows for birth control and counseling for free, and include it in the Department of Defense’s TRICARE health coverage, according to a recent press release introducing the legislation.
“The Affordable Care Act established that being a woman is not a preexisting condition,” said Speier. “We owe female servicemembers the same access to contraception and family planning services as the women they fight to protect.”
According to Rep. Speier, female servicemembers have a 50 percent higher rate of unplanned pregnancy as compared to the overall population. Moreover, as women in the military are often deployed in foreign countries, access to female-appropriate healthcare is often difficult and expensive. For Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center, the bill is “critical to promoting military readiness.”