ACLU Applauds Bipartisan Vote to Restore Contraceptive Coverage for Federal Employees

July 17, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union today applauded a bipartisan vote to adopt an amendment to a spending measure that would reinstate contraceptive coverage under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

“Despite vast public and bipartisan congressional support for contraceptive equity, President George W. Bush sought to remove coverage for a full range of prescription contraceptives and related medical services for federal employees,” said Laura W. Murphy, Director of the ACLU’s Washington National Office. “We applaud the 12 Republicans who shed party politics and voted to restore this important provision in Committee and hope that their colleagues will join them in protecting contraceptive equity on the House floor.”

The government has been providing contraceptive coverage to federal employees since 1998, but the Bush Administration urged that the provision be eliminated as part of this year’s Treasury-Postal appropriations bill. Today’s 40-21 vote in the House Appropriations Committee to restore the coverage came on an amendment sponsored by Rep. Nita M. Lowey, D-NY.

The provision requires that insurance providers participating in the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program cover FDA-approved prescription contraceptives and devices in the same manner that they cover other prescription drugs and devices. Prior to enactment of this provision in 1998, 81 percent of plans failed to cover all five of the leading FDA-approved reversible methods of contraception, and 10 percent did not cover any method at all.

“There are approximately 1.2 million women who rely on the federal health plan for their medical care,” Murphy said. “By eliminating the financial barriers to effective contraceptive services, this amendment will improve maternal and child health, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and ultimately reduce the number of abortions — goals we can all support.”

A separate amendment by Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-CT, to eliminate the bill’s ban on abortion coverage for federal employees — which bars coverage except in cases of rape, incest, and life endangerment — failed on a 26-33 vote. “This prohibition deprives federal employees of the right to choose a health plan that covers the full range of reproductive health services,” Murphy said.

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