LANSING — Members of the Progressive Women’s Caucus’ Women’s Health Task Force introduced legislation today to protect access to contraceptive methods, free of interference from elected officials or employers. Allowing a woman the freedom to choose if, when and how to have a family is not only in the best interest of the woman herself, but also reaps widespread economic benefits as well. In 2010, it was found that providing publicly funded family planning services allowed Michigan to save $212.4 million in public funds by helping women prevent unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and reproductive cancers

“Government has no place in a woman’s ability to access contraception, nor is it appropriate for an employer to regulate whether their employee can or cannot use birth control,” said state Rep. Pam Faris (D-Clio), co-chair of the Women’s Health Task Force. “Women make up more than half of the entire country’s population. Over the years, we have risen in the ranks to become business leaders, doctors, university professors, lawyers and elected officials. It is time that our voices are heard and our choices are respected. If we decide it is best for us — and for our families — to use contraception, neither the government nor our employer should be able to tell us otherwise.”

“Contraceptive care is a key component of health care for the majority of women at some point in their lifetimes,” said state Rep. Winnie Brinks (D-Grand Rapids). “Making sure that women have access to the health care they need includes making sure they can get the contraception that they and their doctors agree is best for them. Health plans should include contraceptive coverage, and their customers should be able to obtain contraceptive care without any unnecessary obstacles.”

The Contraceptive Access bill package would make contraception methods more accessible for women throughout the state, both by monitoring governmental interference in these private matters, as well as by preventing employers from discriminating based on their employees’ contraceptive use. The bills in the package, some of which were introduced in 2017, include the following:

  • House Bill 4019/Senate Bill 835: Creates a requirement for insurance companies to pay for a 365-day supply of covered prescription contraception. (Rep. Faris/Sen. Hertel)
  • HB 4799/SB 458: Creates the Contraceptive Equity Act to require the coverage of contraception. (Rep. Brinks/Sen. Knezek)
  • HB 5610: Creates the Keep Bosses Out of the Bedroom Act to prevent employers from discriminating or taking adverse action against an employee based on the employee’s reproductive health decisions. (Rep. Pagan)
  • HB 5611/SB 833: Creates the Reproductive Health Coverage Information Act to require an employer to notify each applicant for employment of reproductive health coverage information. (Rep. Geiss/Sen. Bieda)
  • HB 5612/SB 831: Creates the Women’s Right to the Pill Act to require all pharmacies to fill lawful contraceptive prescriptions and stock emergency contraception. (Rep. Yancey/Sen. Warren)
  • HB 5613/SB 832: Creates the Emergency Contraceptive Education Act to ensure the public has information on emergency contraceptives, including a description of emergency contraception and an explanation of the use, safety, efficacy and availability. (Rep. Cambensy/Sen. Young)
  • HB 5614/SB 834: Creates the Emergency Contraception in the Emergency Room (EC in the ER) Act to require survivors of sexual assault be provided medically and factually accurate written information about emergency contraception. (Rep. Sneller/Sen. Warren)

The need to protect a woman’s access to birth control has become especially critical as last October the president moved to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for employers to offer coverage for birth control. Yet, according to a survey published in 2013, a majority of respondents felt that the use of birth control gave them the freedom to decide how to shape their lives, allowing them to complete their education, focus on their careers, provide for themselves financially and to support and care for themselves or their families.

“We applaud the Progressive Women’s Caucus for working to protect women’s access to birth control,” said Lori Carpenter, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “Ninety percent of women use contraceptives at some point in their lives, making it a crucial part of basic health care. These legislative champions recognize the important role birth control plays in allowing women (and men) the ability to plan their families, their futures, and their lives.”

“The decision of if and when to start a family is a deeply personal one, and it is one that a woman should have the freedom to think through without outside influence from politicians or her employer,” said state Rep. Kristy Pagan (D-Canton), co-chair of the Women’s Health Task Force. “When a woman has access to comprehensive reproductive health care options, she has the freedom to make her own decisions. We must remove any barriers women face so we can lead happy, healthy lives.”