, 2000

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JUNE 8, 1999  2:59 PM
Planned Parenthood
Sandra Jordan 202-973-6395
Roger Rathman (212) 261-4652
Planned Parenthood Urges Congress to Make Contraceptive Converage a Reality This Year
NEW YORK - June 8 - Statement by Gloria Feldt President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

Health plans must stop denying coverage for the everyday health care that most women need for significant portions of their lives—prescription birth control methods. American women deserve an end to outdated discriminatory practices. This should be the year that EPICC (the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act) becomes law.

There are no good reasons to oppose EPICC—only political excuses. We can no longer afford a style of politics that creates abortion battles over almost every piece of legislation, while refusing votes on bills that would help women prevent the need for abortion in the first place.

Preventing unintended pregnancy is the one thing most everyone agrees on, regardless of feelings about abortion. Americans are frustrated by Washington’s partisan battling and punitive attitudes. Passing EPICC would represent a solid first step toward the kind of common ground approach most Americans yearn for.

Contraceptive coverage is a matter of simple fairness and common sense, with support for it cutting across all political lines. A poll taken for Planned Parenthood Federation of America by Lake, Snell, Perry & Associates in October found:

  • Almost 75 percent of Americans surveyed supported requiring health insurance policies to cover contraceptives just as they do other prescription drugs;
  • More than 80 percent of pro-choice voters, independents, and Democrats supported contraceptive coverage; and
  • 56 percent of Republicans and 57 percent of voters identifying themselves as "pro-life" supported contraceptive coverage.

The FDA approval of Viagra and its almost instantaneous insurance coverage exposed the discrimination women face from insurers. This discrimination has left women of reproductive age with 68 percent higher out-of-pocket medical costs than men.

Last year brought some progress at the federal level. Through the work of Rep. Lowey (D-NY) and Senators Snowe (R-ME) and Reid (D-NV), we gained contraceptive coverage for federal employees. We are also seeing a groundswell of support for contraceptive coverage in the states. In 1998, Maryland was the first state to enact contraceptive coverage. This year, we have seen laws pass in Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada and Vermont and expect passage in California and North Carolina as well. In total, legislation has been introduced in 34 states.

More Americans are making responsible choices and reducing our rate of unintended pregnancy. Americans want this to be the year that the Congress makes the responsible choice on contraceptive coverage. We thank Senators Snowe (R-ME) and Reid (D-NV), and Representatives Greenwood (R-PA) and Lowey (D-NY) for their inspired leadership on this issue.

Write your members of congress and urge them to support Contraceptive Equity legislation!


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