Republican Senate candidate Ed Gillespie reiterated his support for over-the-counter access to birth control during Tuesday’s debate with U.S. Senator Mark Warner. Planned Parenthood is raising issue with the proposal because it would strip the no co-pay birth control benefit from the Affordable Care Act.
“Gillespie’s support for this policy is a political smokescreen and part of an ongoing effort by some politicians to take away birth control coverage,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia. “Women aren’t fooled. They know that the politicians pushing this proposal are the same ones who are trying to get rid of insurance coverage for no-copay birth control, which would prevent many women from being able to afford birth control.”
Planned Parenthood, the American Medical Association, and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree with virtually every other mainstream health care provider and expert in this country — birth control should be more available. Yet, the proposal highlighted by Gillespie this evening would do the opposite. Women would once again be forced to pay out-of-pocket for their birth control, costing upwards of $600 a year.
Gillespie’s proposal also fails to recognize that some of the most effective birth control methods are simply impossible to stock on drugstore shelves. The IUD, for example, requires an appointment with a health care provider. Not all women can take the pill, nor should all women take it. It is important that a woman is able to consult with her doctor and pick the birth control method that works best for her.
“Women understand that Ed Gillespie’s policies are out of step with the mainstream on women’s health and he’s running for cover now,” said Stewart-Reid. “Tonight, Senator Warner reiterated that he trusts women to make their own health care decisions and understands that the birth control benefit makes access more affordable for women.”
Planned Parenthood supports making oral contraceptives available over-the-counter, in addition to requiring insurance plans to cover it, not instead of requiring no-copay coverage. Women deserve both/and — not either/or.