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Attorney General Josh Stein Supports Women’s Access to Safe Contraception

For Immediate Release:
Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Contact: Nazneen Ahmed

(RALEIGH) Attorney General Josh Stein today supported the Biden administration’s proposal to scrap dangerous Trump-era rules that allow employers to interfere in their employees’ reproductive health decisions. These rules took away contraceptive coverage from women who should have been entitled to it under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

“Women should make their own medical care and birth control decisions — not politicians and not employers,” said Attorney General Josh Stein. “I’m pleased that the Biden administration is taking steps to restore women’s access to contraception, and I’m urging them to do even more to protect patients’ rights.”

The ACA’s contraceptive coverage mandate was signed into law in 2010 to correct historic inequities in women’s health care. It required all employers and sponsors of health plans to cover the cost of preventive services necessary for women’s health care, including contraceptive services. It is estimated that more than 62 million women have benefited from the ACA’s birth control coverage mandate. Studies have shown that access to contraceptive care supports people’s ability to control their own reproductive health, and promotes access to education, jobs, and financial empowerment.

In 2017 and 2018, the Trump administration issued rules that allowed exemptions for nearly all types of employers to deny birth control coverage to their employees based on religious or moral objections. Between 70,500 and 126,400 women lost birth control coverage. The exemptions did not even require the employees to be informed before they lost coverage – the employer could simply object and never let the employee know.

In February, the Biden administration proposed rescinding the Trump-era moral exemption rule and retaining the religious exemption rule. The administration is also proposing creating an Individual Contraceptive Arrangement (ICA) to ensure that patients enrolled in health plans or coverage sponsored by objecting employers would still be able to get contraceptive services at no cost.

Attorney General Stein and a coalition of 22 attorneys general support the Biden administration’s proposal to remove the moral exemption. Further, they urge the administration to clarify the religious exemption and make improvements to the ICA, including:

  • Expanding the ICA to include a wider spectrum of individuals who are excluded from contraceptive coverage.
  • Carrying out a publicity and outreach campaign to inform patients and providers about the ICA and help them enroll in it.
  • Providing additional protections to secure patients’ privacy, safeguard them from retaliation, and create a process for contesting medical bills.

Attorney General Stein is joined in sending today’s letter by the Attorneys General of California, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

A copy of the comment letter can be found here.


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