WASHINGTON(Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday will sign an executive order designed to protect and expand access to contraception, after a Supreme Court ruling last year overturning the constitutional right to abortion raised fears that birth control could also face restrictions.
Biden senior adviser Jen Klein told reporters that the order will increase ways for women to access contraception and lower out-of-pocket costs.
Klein said the order directs federal departments to consider requiring private insurers to offer expanded contraception options under the Affordable Care Act such as by covering more than one product and streamlining the process for obtaining care.
Biden’s order comes as reproductive rights advocates say rising barriers are leaving millions of women without easy access to contraception.
Contraceptives have been in focus since the Supreme Court on June 24 of last year overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are expected to make remarks on Friday marking the one-year anniversary of the landmark decision, Klein said.
“This action will build on the progress already made under the Affordable Care Act by further reducing barriers that women face in accessing contraception prescribed by their provider,” a White House fact sheet on the order said.
While the Affordable Care Act, the signature domestic policy achievement of former President Barack Obama, requires coverage of contraception, health plans provided by certain exempt religious employers do not have to cover it.
Biden’s order will also direct the government to consider ways to make affordable over-the-counter contraception, including emergency contraception, more accessible, the fact sheet said. This could include convening pharmacies, employers, and insurers to explore the issue.
Improving access to family planning services and supplies for people covered by the government’s Medicaid and Medicare programs is another goal of the order.
The U.S. House of Representatives last July, when it was still controlled by Democrats, passed a bill to protect access to contraception, but it was blocked in the Senate by Republicans.
Two U.S. senators last week introduced a new bill to protect access to contraception. To become law, the bill would need to pass in both the Democratic-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
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