The first day of the 111th Congressional session saw the
introduction in the Senate of the Prevention First Act, a bill that would dramatically
increase access to family planning services just as America’s families find themselves on
ever more precarious financial footing. The
legislation would fully fund the country’s family planning program, Title X,
and require that health care insurers extend coverage to contraceptives, promoting birth control affordability.
"More than 17
million women in the U.S.
need publicly funded family planning services, and there is not enough funding
to meet the need," said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards in a
statement. "The Prevention First Act will help women and couples plan their
families and their futures by expanding access to critically needed affordable
family planning education and reproductive health care services."
Prevention First’s cornerstones are expanding contraceptive
access and providing medically-accurate sexuality education, two common ground measures
anyone committed to reducing unintended pregnancy can support.
Advocates and the Majority
Leader’s office could not speak to a timetable for the bill yet, but said that
the fact that it was introduced on Congress’s first day in session sent a
powerful message of support for the legislation. Some of the bill’s provisions could also be enacted
by being included in other pieces of legislation, such health care reform
Planned Parenthood reports that the bill would:
- restore affordable birth control for millions of college
and low-income women
- fully fund Title X, the nation’s family planning program
- expand access to reproductive health care services for low-income women
- protect teens’ health through medically accurate comprehensive sex education
- require equity in contraceptive insurance coverage
- improve awareness about emergency contraception
- protect and expand rape survivors’ access to emergency contraception in
Representatives Louise M. Slaughter and Diana DeGette are
planning to introduce the bill in the House later this week.