June 07, 2022

As Reproductive Health Care Is Under Attack, Cortez Masto & Colleagues Introduce Affordable Over-the-Counter Birth Control Legislation

A new poll finds an overwhelming majority of Americans support expanding access to birth control as the Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) in introducing the Affordability is Access Act, legislation to ensure that women across the country can access and afford over-the-counter birth control options and plan their own reproductive lives on their own terms.

“Birth control is essential health care, and it has helped thousands of Nevadans stay healthy and in control of their reproductive choices,” said Senator Cortez Masto. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to protect women’s access to safe and affordable family planning options, and I’ll keep fighting to ensure that everyone who wants and needs birth control has easy access to quality, affordable care.”

The Affordability is Access Act would ensure that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) swiftly approves an over-the-counter birth control option once the agency determines it to be safe and that insurers fully cover over-the-counter birth control without any out-of-pocket costs. This bill addresses the reality that for many women—especially those with the tightest budgets—true access requires affordability.

Senator Cortez Masto has been a tireless advocate for reproductive rights. She recently urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to protect the data privacy of women seeking reproductive health care, following the Supreme Court’s leaked decision overturning Roe v. Wade. She has also spoken on the Senate floor about the importance of protecting the right to choose for women around the country. She has called on her colleagues to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation to guarantee reproductive freedoms for Americans. Last year, the senator raised the alarm about the danger a Mississippi case represents to Roe v. Wade and joined Congressional colleagues in filing a brief in the case urging the Supreme Court to uphold Roe. She was a vocal opponent of the Trump administration’s efforts to limit access to family planning and reproductive health care and worked to block federal court nominees who would roll back women’s health care and reproductive freedoms.   

The Affordability is Access Act (AAA) would:

  • Ensure coverage of all oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription.
  • Maintain the FDA’s sole authority to determine the safety and efficacy of drugs and make them available over-the-counter without a prescription. 
    • Entities that research and develop oral contraceptives must apply to the FDA for review and approval for sale without a prescription.
    • Upon the receipt of such an application, the FDA must determine whether the contraceptive product meets the rigorous safety, efficacy, and quality standards for over-the-counter use, as established by the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act.
    • If the product meets these standards, the FDA should approve the application without delay.
  • Require retailers to provide oral contraception without a prescription. 
    • The Affordability is Access Act states that any retailer that stocks oral contraception that the FDA has approved or regulated for routine, daily use without a prescription may not interfere with a consumer’s access to or purchase of such contraception.

Read full text of the Affordability is Access Act here.