History: Reproductive health has always been a concern ranging from: fertility, birth control, sexually transmitted infections, ability to become pregnant, maintenance of one's reproductive health system, and more. The birth control movement developed in the 19th and early 20th century. “The Malthusian League, based on the ideas of Thomas Malthus, was established in 1877 to educate the public about the importance of family planning and to advocate for getting rid of penalties for promoting birth control” (Simms, p. 221). The first permanent birth-control clinic was established in Britain in 1921 by Marie Stopes working with the Malthusian League (Hall, p. 186). Gregory Pincus and John Rock with help from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America developed the first birth control pill in the 1950s, which was available to the public in 1960. The longstanding history of reproductive health finds itself inline with the World Health Organization’s definition of reproductive health as a:
State of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity, reproductive health addresses the reproductive processes, functions and system at all stages of life. Reproductive health, therefore, implies that people are able to have a responsible, satisfying and safe sex life and that they have the capability to reproduce and the freedom to decide if, when and how often to do so. Implicit in this are the right of men and women to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice, and the right of access to appropriate health care services that will enable women to go safely through pregnancy and childbirth and provide couples with the best chance of having a healthy infant (WHO.int, n.d.). However, reproductive health is not always seen as an innate right. Religious, political and cultural habits and beliefs are laden with opposition and disagree with what is defined as individual freedoms. These entities find themselves in opposition to the ACA’s new reproductive health guidelines making the new policy highly controversial. Corporations are claiming individual rights to exercise religious freedoms under either the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause or under a federal law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, passed by Congress in 1993. The discrepancy resides in whether or not a corporation has the same innate rights and individuals. Currently the Supreme Court is hearing arguments from both sides.
The ACA and Reproductive Health Concerns: The Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and then signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. On June 28, 2012 the Supreme Court ruled to uphold the health care law. As part of the ACA:
Plans in the Health Insurance Marketplace must cover contraceptive methods and counseling for all women, as prescribed by a health care provider. These plans must cover the services without charging a copayment, coinsurance, or deductible when they are provided by an in-network provider (healthcare.gov, n.d.).
If you are a woman who bought insurance through your employer, state marketplace, or private company the ACA will cover birth control methods. FDA-approved birth control types that are that are covered under the ACA include birth control patches, pills, rings, shots, implants, cervical caps, diaphragms, IUD’s, and permanent contraception methods. All contraceptive methods will still require prescriptions but well-women’s visits to obtain prescriptions and physician