Biden issues executive order on improving access to contraception
June 26, 2023 – Last Friday, the Biden Administration issued an executive order on “Strengthening Access to Affordable, High-Quality Contraception and Family Planning Services”. The executive order includes an explicit directive to the Secretaries of the Treasury, Labor and HHS to explore ways to improve access and affordability for over-the-counter (OTC) contraception. This is welcome news that we hope will help advance contraceptive equity. We look forward to the administration taking action to meet the president's directives and address the systemic barriers that have for too long kept people from accessing the care they want and need.
The order comes one month after a joint advisory committee’s unanimous vote recommending FDA approval of Opill as the first-ever over-the-counter birth control pill in the United States, and one year after the Supreme Court released its final decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, which eliminated constitutional protections for abortion in the country. This is a critical time for the Biden Administration to take immediate action to ensure that the full range of sexual and reproductive health care is equitably accessible. Affordability is a key issue that prevents people from accessing the care they want and need, and for many people, insurance coverage is a direct path to ensuring that cost is not a barrier. Insurance coverage, coupled with no out-of-pocket cost for this critical preventive health service, will have an enormous impact on expanding access for OTC contraception methods for people of all incomes across the country. This is a health equity and reproductive justice issue, and timely action is needed to improve access for all.
Immediate steps can be taken to improve access and affordability of OTC contraception. We look forward to working in partnership with the administration to support specific actions that they can take to ensure that current and future FDA-approved OTC methods are fully covered without a prescription and without out-of-pocket expenses.
Victoria Nichols (she/her), project director of Free the Pill, a project of Ibis Reproductive Health focused on bringing birth control pills over the counter in the United States, released the following statement –
“As we await an FDA decision on whether to approve Opill as the first-ever over-the-counter birth control pill, we are glad to see the Biden Administration issue an executive order to improve access to affordable over-the-counter contraception and affirm the importance of insurance coverage for OTC birth control. We know affordability and insurance coverage are systemic barriers to accessing birth control and removing these barriers is critical for advancing equitable access. Ensuring that future over-the-counter birth control pills–in addition to existing OTC birth control options–are fully covered by insurance, priced affordably, and available to people of all ages is essential to ensuring equitable contraceptive access.”
Kelly Blanchard (she/her), president of Ibis Reproductive Health, a global nonprofit research organization which operates the Free the Pill coalition, released the following statement –
"Birth control pills are safe and effective, but there are currently too many barriers to access them and for many this includes issues related to affordability and insurance coverage. Increasing access to birth control pills is crucial to the health and well-being of women, people capable of pregnancy, and families. We need policymakers to take action to ensure and enforce comprehensive coverage of OTC contraception without a prescription at no out-of-pocket cost."