On Friday, President Biden issued an Executive Order demanding strengthened access to affordable contraceptives and family planning services. This is the President’s first executive order which centers on contraceptives and his third on reproductive health care. His two previous Executive Orders focused on securing access to reproductive healthcare services, and were issued shortly after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022.
The White House’s Fact Sheet on this new Executive Order declares that “contraception is an essential component of reproductive health care that has only become more important in the wake of Dobbs and the ensuing crisis in women’s access to health care.” Some of the main proposals the President plans to implement include improved access to contraceptives for women with private health insurance, increased access to over-the-counter contraceptives, and improved access to contraceptives and family planning services through Medicaid and Medicare.
The Executive Order also announced a new public-private partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and Upstream USA. Upstream is a nonprofit organization which, as its website states, “was founded in 2014 to expand opportunity and reduce unplanned pregnancy across the United States.” The White House stated that this partnership will help expand access to contraceptives while also aiding Upstream’s mission to “transform contraceptive care” in more than 700 health centers by 2030.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, 29 states and the District of Columbia require insurers that cover prescription drugs to also provide coverage of FDA-approved contraceptives. Despite inclusive mandates such as these, federal law still allows for certain religious employers with both nonprofits and for-profit businesses to deny employees contraceptives through a provided healthcare plan. While the Trump administration dismantled the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) contraceptive mandate and expanded this law, the Biden administration has been working to reverse this.
The Biden administration has also been committed to undoing the Domestic Gag Rule, which prohibited Title X-funded reproductive health centers from referring patients for abortions or providing abortions and family planning services in the same clinic. The Executive Order proposes that assistance will be provided to Title X clinics via the Reproductive Health National Training Center and the Clinical Training Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health. Additionally, the President’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget Request includes $512 million to go towards the Title X Family Planning Program.
The President’s Executive Order comes at the first anniversary of the Dobbs decision, demonstrating the Biden administration’s continuous commitment to providing affordable and high-quality reproductive health care. While strides such as this are slowly being made, we must continue to speak up and take action to stand against unjust laws which violate our reproductive rights.