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Washington, DC -- Today the Supreme Court hears oral argument in Zubik v. Burwell, a case that will decide whether certain bosses can, once and for all, take away employees’ access to birth control. The arguments come on the sixth anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s historic health reform that expanded access to no-copay birth control for over 55 million women nationwide.

Planned Parenthood joined coalition partners and health care champions in front of the Supreme Court this morning from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  to highlight the important gains made by expanding - not limiting - access to birth control.

Simply put, faith-based organizations, who are already provided a workaround from the birth control provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), are arguing over whether they must complete basic paperwork.   

Statement from Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

“You might say at Planned Parenthood we know a thing or two about birth control. We also know it is the height of irony that on the anniversary of the ACA, wrongheaded detractors of the law are still trying to take away access to affordable birth control.   Experts at the Institute of Medicine determined that birth control is essential and basic preventive health care for millions of women.  

“Like we did before the law was signed six years ago, Planned Parenthood will keep fighting for the right to birth control, no matter who your boss is.”

Under the “accommodation” at issue before the Supreme Court today, these employers simply need to fill out a one-page form or provide written notice stating their objection to having to provide birth control coverage, and insurance companies provide the birth control coverage and communicate directly with employees.  

Under the ACA, every insurance plan is required to provide preventive care for all enrollees with no out-of-pocket costs. For women, that preventive care includes any FDA-approved method of contraception.  Recognizing that some employers have religious objections to contraception, the Obama Administration created an accommodation for religiously affiliated nonprofits and certain for-profit companies to ensure they could continue to express their religious objection to contraception, but their employees could still seamlessly access the health care they need at no additional costs.  At stake in Zubik v. Burwell is the continuing vitality of that accommodation to protect the employees of those religiously-affiliated nonprofits as well as certain closely held for-profit companies, like Hobby Lobby.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America joined the National Women's Law Center and other groups committed to equality for women and their access to health care in filing an amicus brief in the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the birth control coverage provision and accommodation.  This brief joined dozens of other amicus briefs filed by members of Congress, other medical provider organizations, LGBT groups, faith-based groups and others.

Birth control and the ACA:

The ACA has saved women an estimated $1.4 billion a year on out of pocket costs for birth control pills alone — showing the clear economic impact that access to no co-pay birth control has had on women’s lives.

The ACA requires health insurance plans to provide coverage without copay for birth control as well as other preventive health care services like blood pressure screenings, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and routine vaccinations.

The development and availability of the birth control pill has been called one of the most “transformative” developments in history for women.  A 2012 University of Michigan study found that fully one-third of the wage gains women have made since the 1960’s are the result of access to contraceptives. Today, women are a majority of undergraduate college students and the number of women who complete four or more years of college is six times what it was before birth control became legal.  Women earn half of all doctorate degrees, half of medical degrees, and half of law degrees.

What’s more, expanded access to birth control has helped dramatically reduce the teen pregnancy rate – which is now at a 40-year low – and reduce the rate of abortion in states across the U.S.

Historic Gains from the ACA:

Since passage of the ACA, we have seen the largest reduction in the uninsured in four decades. With about 12.7 million people already enrolled in health insurance through the Marketplaces — including nearly 6.1 million  women — affordable health coverage is now within reach for millions of women and families.

  • The ACA helped increase health equity in coverage and care for communities of color, including Latinos and African American communities.

  • Since October 2013, the uninsured rate dropped 10.3 percentage points among African Americans, resulting in 2.6 million adults gaining coverage, and dropped 11.5  percentage points for Latinos, resulting in 4 million Latino adults gaining coverage.

More women have been able to access Medicaid coverage since passage of the ACA. In 2014, Medicaid covered 16% of women ages 19-64 (roughly 15.6 million), up from 10% in 2008. More than half of Planned Parenthood patients rely on Medicaid coverage to access critical health care services, including birth control, life-saving cancer screenings, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.

  • Medicaid also covers pregnancy-related care, enabling women to receive timely prenatal care and deliver healthy babies.

  • For every dollar spent on publicly funded contraceptives, American taxpayers save more than $7 in other costs.

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