During 2016 and 2017, NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland Fund conducted a study on the availability of unrestricted Emergency Contraception (also known as “EC” or “The morning after pill”) in Maryland to determine areas in need of attention regarding implementation. NPCMF found significant barriers to EC access across the state. You can read the full report here.
Birth control is not controversial: 99 percent of sexually active women use it at some point in their lives.
People use birth control for all sorts of reasons, including to avoid getting pregnant before they are ready. Making birth control accessible and affordable is the quickest way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
At NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland, we’re fighting to make sure every form of birth control is accessible, affordable and available for use by those who ask for it-from the University of Maryland public university system to Maryland’s correctional and detention centers.
Laws promoting insurance coverage of contraception are crucial to ensuring comprehensive reproductive-health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires employer and university-provided health insurance plans to cover preventative care for women, which has long been interpreted by the Department of Health and Human Services as including all forms of FDA-approved contraception. As a result of the ACA’s contraception mandate, women save an estimated $483 million per year on contraception.
Unfortunately, anti-choice extremists who are opposed to birth control for ideological reasons have worked to restrict access to contraception. Employers who want to deny their employees coverage of contraception won at the Supreme Court in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby. Some states have enacted laws allowing some individuals and companies to refuse to provide or cover contraception. Most recently, in July 2020, the Supreme Court ruled in Trump v. Pennsylvania that the Trump administration has the authority to create a broad exemption to the mandate that would allow most employers to opt out of providing contraception coverage to their employees for religious or “moral” reasons. Under this Supreme Court ruling, employers effectively have the power to control their employees’ reproductive healthcare decisions. Without insurance coverage, many Americans will be unable to afford the out-of-pocket costs of their contraception, leading some to forgo contraception entirely or pick a cheaper method that isn’t the best choice for them and their health. Hormonal birth control pills, one of the most popular types of contraception, can cost up to $600 per year without insurance coverage. For many, that’s an unaffordable expense.
In Maryland, we are fortunate enough to live in a state where our elected officials understand the importance of pushing proactive legislation to safeguard against attempts to restrict access to birth control. Since 1998, Maryland law has required health insurance plans that cover prescription medicine to include coverage for all prescription contraception approved by the Food and Drug Administration (Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 15-826). Maryland also prohibits co-pays for prescription contraceptives and mandates insurance coverage for 12-month supplies of contraceptives (Md. Code Ann., Ins. § 15-826.1). However, the law includes an exemption for “religious organizations” opposed to providing contraception. Additionally, the broad moral and religious exemption to the ACA created by the Trump administration further undermines these requirements for contraception coverage. We must work to hold our officials accountable to our vision for a Maryland where we all get the medication that we need.