June 13, 2019

Harris, Colleagues Introduce Legislation Pushing for Affordable Over-the-Counter Birth Control

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) on Thursday joined Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and 25 of their colleagues in introducing the Affordability is Access Act (AAA), legislation to make sure over-the-counter birth control is affordable and accessible for women across the country.

The legislation would expand access to affordable birth control for women across the nation—including those in communities that face health disparities and greater challenges getting the care they need like women of color, women with disabilities, low-income women, and women in rural areas—while maintaining the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs. It comes on the heels of the administration’s ongoing efforts to undermine women’s health, including its efforts to roll back protections that prevent women from being charged extra for birth control and to sabotage the Title X family planning program which helps women across the country get affordable health care—including contraceptive care.

“Right now, reproductive rights are under attack in our country,” said Senator Harris. “We must do more to ensure women have access to affordable reproductive health care, including contraception. I’m proud to stand with my colleagues in introducing this bill to make birth control available over-the-counter while keeping it covered by insurance. This legislation will help secure economic and reproductive justice for all women.”

In addition to Harris and Murray, the legislation is co-sponsored by Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jack Reed (D-RI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Ed Markey (D-MA), Gary Peters (D-MI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Tina Smith (D-MN).

The legislation has been endorsed by: National Women's Law Center (NWLC), Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR), National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH), In Our Own Voice, National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF), National Partnership for Women & Families (NPWF), National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA), NARAL, Planned Parenthood, Guttmacher Institute, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Physicians for Reproductive Health, an Power to Decide.

The Affordability Is Access Act (AAA) will: 

  • Ensure coverage of comprehensive preventive health services and expand coverage to include full access to oral contraception for routine, daily over-the-counter use for all women. All private health insurance plans are now required to cover all U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved methods of contraception. The Act would ensure coverage of all oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription.
  • Maintain the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs and make them available over-the-counter without a prescription. It is imperative that the entities that research and develop oral contraceptives, and whose medical and scientific experts have developed clinical and other evidence that birth control pills are safe and effective for women when sold without a prescription, apply to the FDA for review and approval for sale without a prescription.

Upon the receipt of such an application, the FDA must determine whether the contraceptive product meets the rigorous safety, and efficacy standards for over-the-counter use, as established by the agency Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act. If the product meets such these standards, the FDA should approve the application without delay.

  • Ensure Retailers Provide Oral Contraception without a Prescription. The Act states that any retailer that stocks oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraception.

See the text of the Affordability Is Access Act (AAA) HERE.