Yesterday, the Access to Birth Control (ABC) Act was reintroduced in the U.S. House and Senate by Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., and Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J.
The ABC Act was introduced a week after the Institute for Medicine recommended adding birth control to a list of preventative care services to be covered without co-payments in health care insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act.
Maloney said that the institute’s recommendation “marks an important first step toward near-universal contraceptive coverage in America, but if women are denied the actual contraceptives when they go to their pharmacist, having no-cost contraceptives is rendered meaningless.”
“We must ensure that American women do not face obstacles when seeking doctor prescribed, legal medications,” she said.
When introducing the bill, Maloney said:
The ABC Act would make it illegal for a pharmacist to refuse to return a birth control prescription or for a pharmacist to intimidate, threaten or harass customers or intentionally breach or threaten to breach medical confidentiality.
By placing the burden of responsibility on the pharmacy, the ABC Act strikes a balance between the rights of individual pharmacists based on their beliefs and the right of women to receive medication. If the request product is not in stock, but the pharmacy stocks other forms of contraception, the bill mandates that the pharmacy help the woman obtain the medication without delay by the method of her preference (order, referral or a transferred prescription).
Very simply, this legislation ensures a woman’s legal access to birth control.
NARAL Pro-Choice America has released a statement supporting the bill.
Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, said that “federal action is especially necessary since rogue pharmacists who are opposed to contraception are refusing to fill women’s prescriptions, and only six states have laws that require pharmacies to fill women’s birth-control prescriptions.”
“The concept is simple: Women should be able to walk into a pharmacy and leave with the medication they need,” Keenan said in the group’s statement. “It is mind boggling that the same people who attack legal abortion also want to block women’s access to contraception, which is one of the best ways to prevent unintended pregnancy and thus reduce the need for abortion.”