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A bill introduced yesterday by U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen seeks to expand contraception coverage for those who served in the military and their relatives.

The Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act would, among other things, eliminate cost-sharing for pregnancy prevention methods through the military’s TRICARE insurance program and require that military treatment facilities maintain a “sufficient stock of a broad range” of FDA-approved contraception methods. It would also streamline and update military medical providers’ practice guidelines related to contraceptives.

According to the bill, “servicewomen not on active duty, and female dependents of members of the Armed Forces, who receive health care through the TRICARE program do not have similar coverage of all prescription methods of contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration without cost-sharing.”

In a letter co-signed by three dozen organizations – including Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Service Women’s Action Network – supporters commended Shaheen’s effort to expand access to eliminate cost-sharing emergency contraception, particularly for those who have been sexually assaulted. - Concord Monitor, 7/30/14

Here's some more info:

UNITED STATES - May 7 : Chairman Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH., during the Legislative Branch Subcommittee hearing on the FY2014 Budget Request for the Library of Congress and the Open World Leadership Center on May 7, 2013.  (Photo By Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call)
The Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014 would require the military’s TRICARE insurance program to cover contraception for no additional co-pay, just as the civilian population is guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act. The bill would also require the Department of Defense to provide family planning counseling for all servicewomen at specific points during her service.

“Female service members deserve access to the same basic health care as the women they protect, and it’s unacceptable that they don’t,” Shaheen said in a statement.

A report from the Center for American Progress, titled Out of Range, found that servicewomen suffer from 50 percent more unplanned pregnancies than the civilian population, and that sexually transmitted infection rates are seven times higher among military women than civilian women. This is not because servicewomen are less responsible, the authors write, but because of inadequate access to contraception. One-third of servicewomen lack proper access to birth control during their deployment for various reasons, including having too short notice of being deployed. - RH Reality Check, 7/31/14

Shaheen's legislation has some big support as well:

July 30, 2014

The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen

United States Senate

520 Hart Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Shaheen:

As organizations committed to protecting and improving women's health and rights, we write in support of the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014. This bill ensures that all servicemembers and their dependents who rely on the military for health care have comprehensive contraceptive coverage and family planning counseling.

Women play a vital role in the U.S. military and currently constitute 16 percent of all active duty and reserve members of the military. This bill would ensure that confidential, comprehensive, and medically accurate family-planning counseling becomes a guaranteed health service for servicewomen, and is offered by medical providers that have the most up-to-date, evidenced-based information regarding the full range of contraceptive methods available.

Ninety-seven percent of servicewomen are of reproductive age and studies suggest that servicemembers could benefit from receiving comprehensive family planning counseling. Additionally, servicewomen deployed overseas are often stationed in environments with unique challenges that require additional considerations in choosing the best contraception method. Meeting the needs of servicewomen's reproductive-health care is critical to ensure military readiness and mission accomplishment.

Unintended pregnancy can be prevented through comprehensive education and family-planning counseling. This bill would guarantee that such counseling is available at various points in a servicewoman's career, including during predeployment and deployment health-care visits, giving women the tools necessary to make informed decisions on whether, and when, to have a child.

Further, this bill requires TRICARE to offer insurance coverage of all FDA-approved methods of contraception with no cost-sharing. With this provision, the nearly 5 million women eligible for Department of Defense- based health insurance will have the same birth control coverage as federal employees and those who rely on private insurance coverage. Currently, active duty military have no cost-sharing for any prescriptions, although non-active duty military and dependents must pay cost-sharing for birth control acquired outside a Military Treatment Facility (MTF).

This bill would also make available at MTFs a range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, providing a critical health service to the high number - 41 percent - of deployed servicewomen who have difficulty obtaining a refill for their ideal contraception method.

Finally, this bill improves servicewomen's access to emergency contraception (EC) in two ways: first by codifying Department of Defense regulations that health-care providers at MTFs provide survivors of sexual assault with information regarding emergency contraception. Second, the bill requires MTFs to offer a sexual assault survivor EC upon her request.

We believe it is the duty of our military to provide the highest quality health care to all servicemembers and military dependents, women included, and therefore strongly support the Access to Contraception for Women Servicemembers and Dependents Act of 2014.

Thank you,

American Civil Liberties Union

Catholics for Choice

Center for Inquiry

Center for Reproductive Rights

Episcopal Women's Caucus

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Freethought Society

General Board of Church & Society, The United Methodist Church

Hispanic American Freethinkers

Ibis Reproductive Health

Institute for Science and Human Values, Inc.

Jewish Council for Public Affairs

Jewish Women International

NARAL Pro-Choice America

National Abortion Federation

National Council of Jewish Women

National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association

National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health

National Organization for Women

National Partnership for Women & Families

National Women's Health Network

National Women's Law Center3

Physicians for Reproductive Health

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Population Connection Action Fund

Population Institute

Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Reproductive Health Technologies Project

Service Women's Action Network

Society for Humanistic Judaism

The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Union for Reform Judaism

Unitarian Universalist Association

Unitarian Universalist Women's' Federation

Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

Women of Reform Judaism

If you'd like more information, please contact Shaheen's office:

(202) 224-2841

Also, this explains why Scott Brown (R. NH) decided to give politics another shot:

Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown credited his employment with Fox News for motivating him to run for office again.

During a July 31 appearance on Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, Brown said of working as a Fox News contributor: "Certainly I loved doing what I was doing, and I think as a result of me being on Fox and being up on the issues, and listening to the false rhetoric out of the administration, really charged me up to get involved again."

The affection appears to be mutual between Fox News and Brown, as host Brian Kilmeade told Brown, "We miss having you on, having you as a contributor."

Brown took advantage of Kilmeade's softball interview to repeatedly plug his website and call for campaign volunteers and donations.

"What's the answer?" Brown asked about problems facing the country. "The answer is to take over the Senate, is to have people get on and help donate and help volunteer and let's send a message to the president because he's not up for reelection. But his number one foot soldiers are, folks, so let's get involved. "

He added later: "If people want to help, I'm telling you, it's time, folks., and let's go take back our country." - Media Matters, 7/31/14

Lets be sure to send Brown back to Fox News this November.  Click here to donate and get involved with Shaheen's re-election campaign:

Originally posted to pdc on Thu Jul 31, 2014 at 09:20 PM PDT.

Also republished by Take New Hampshire Forward!, Military Community Members of Daily Kos, and The Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party.

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