May 27, 2021

Duckworth, Hirono, Underwood Introduce Bill to Expand Access to Contraceptive Care for Veterans


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) was joined by U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) today in introducing the Access to Contraception Expansion for Veterans (ACE Veterans) Act, legislation that would improve access to contraceptive products for Veterans by requiring providers at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)—the largest integrated healthcare system in the United States—to inform patients of their option to request a full year of contraception at the time of the prescription being issued. Currently, most Veterans are only given a three-month supply of contraceptives from VA, which can lead to Veterans experiencing gaps in their birth control. Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Representatives Lauren Underwood (D-IL-14) and Conor Lamb (D-PA-17).

“As the number of women volunteering to serve our nation continues to rise, it’s critical we modernize our healthcare systems to meet their unique needs,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud to be introducing this important legislation today with Senator Hirono and Representatives Underwood and Lamb that would help Veterans who are experiencing difficulty accessing contraception get the care they need while also saving taxpayer dollars and reducing unintended pregnancies.”

“Veterans shouldn’t face barriers to accessing contraception or experience gaps between prescription refills,” said Hirono. “I am joining Senator Duckworth and Representatives Underwood and Lamb to introduce the ACE Veterans Act because contraception is critical preventive care for many veterans and should be treated as such. This bill takes one more important step toward making sure all who need contraception can access it easily.”

“Our veterans have served and sacrificed so much for us—the least we can do in return is ensure they get the best possible health care,” said Underwood. “The ACE Veterans Act will make it easier for veterans to get the contraceptive care they need, which in turn improves outcomes. When you ask a veteran to pick up their contraception every few months rather than just once a year, it’s more than just a few extra drives to the pharmacy, it costs the VA money and makes women veterans more susceptible to unintended pregnancies. The ACE Veterans Act will reduce this burden and bring the VA’s current policy up-to-date with evidence-based policies implemented across the country.”

A recent study found that more than 64 percent of women Veterans who received contraceptive supplies from VA experienced at least one gap of seven days between refills during a year of use. Missing more than 2 consecutive contraceptive pills can increase a women’s chance of contraceptive failure and the potential for unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancy has been linked to adverse health effects, including maternal depression, intimate partner violence, low birth weight, preterm birth, and infant mortality.

This legislation is supported by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), AMVETS, Service Womens Action Network (SWAN), Women Veterans Interactive and the National Women’s Law Center.