Pennsylvania House Approves Bill to Protect Contraceptive Access

Harrisburg, CapitolCredit: Commonwealth Media Services

HARRISBURG, PA — The Pennsylvania House of Representatives approved legislation on Tuesday aimed at securing state-level protections for contraceptive access. House Bill 1140, sponsored by state Rep. Leanne Krueger, passed with a bipartisan vote of 133-69.

Key Provisions of the Bill

House Bill 1140 mandates that all health insurance policies in Pennsylvania cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices, products, and services. This includes emergency contraception and over-the-counter oral contraception without cost-sharing. The bill also introduces a statewide standing order for contraceptives, issued by the Pennsylvania Secretary of Health or Physician General, to facilitate access to these medications.

The legislation addresses safe patient access and continuity of care by requiring coverage for an initial three-month supply of contraceptives, followed by a one-year refill. It ensures confidentiality for individuals seeking contraceptives, aligning with HIPAA confidentiality requirements. The bill also respects federal law on religious exemptions for birth control but does not allow exemptions when contraceptives are prescribed for treating medical conditions.

Motivation Behind the Bill

Rep. Krueger, D-Delaware, introduced the bill in response to efforts by some legislators and activists to limit access to contraceptives. She has proposed similar legislation every session since 2020. The bill gained urgency after the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and left reproductive rights decisions to individual states.

“Contraception is health care, plain and simple,” Krueger said. “No one but a woman and her doctor should decide what medical care she has the right to receive.” She emphasized that Pennsylvania currently lacks state-level protections for contraceptive access, making federal attacks on these rights particularly concerning.

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Improving Access to Contraceptives

The approval of House Bill 1140 is a significant step toward ensuring that Pennsylvanians have reliable access to contraceptives. The lack of state protections leaves residents vulnerable to changes in federal policy that could restrict access to these essential health care services.

By requiring insurance coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives and eliminating cost-sharing, the bill aims to make contraceptives more affordable and accessible. The inclusion of emergency contraception and over-the-counter options further broadens access, ensuring that individuals can obtain the necessary medications without undue barriers.

The bill’s provisions for confidentiality and continuous coverage are critical for protecting patient privacy and ensuring that individuals can maintain their contraceptive regimen without interruption. These measures are especially important for those who may face stigma or other challenges in accessing reproductive health care.

Next Steps

House Bill 1140 now heads to the Pennsylvania Senate for consideration. If passed, it will provide a robust framework for protecting access to contraceptives in the state. This legislation represents a proactive approach to safeguarding reproductive rights and ensuring that all Pennsylvanians have the health care they need.

Rep. Krueger’s persistent advocacy highlights the ongoing battle over reproductive rights in the post-Roe era. The outcome of this legislation will be closely watched, as it could set a precedent for other states navigating similar challenges.

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