Serving Those Who Serve? Access to contraception for servicemembers, veterans, and their dependents

04.17.20

Document Type


Primary Content

Servicemembers, veterans and their families face a number of barriers in accessing the contraception they need, particularly as compared to the civilian population. Contraception is an essential part of health care. Beyond allowing people to plan and space pregnancies, birth control can be used for a variety of non-contraceptive benefits, including management of medical conditions such as pre-menstrual dysphoric disorder, menstrual migraines and endometriosis. For servicemembers, the ability to regulate or suppress menstruation by using birth control can be especially important during deployment.

The issue brief calls on Congress and the administration to reinforce and build upon Defense Health Administration guidance in order to improve access to contraception, including by:

  • Eliminating copays for contraception for all servicemembers, their dependents and veterans;
  • Codifying regulations that ensure prompt access to emergency contraception for sexual assault survivors;
  • Ensuring that veterans can receive a full year’s supply of contraception;
  • Codifying the requirement for evidence-based family planning education; and
  • Monitoring implementation of the recent Defense Health Agency instruction to ensure servicemembers receive the full benefits of the new policies.

Read the full issue brief here.

The Center developed this issue brief in cooperation with:

  • The Service Women’s Action Network, a member-driven organization that acts as a voice for women who have served or are currently serving in the military.
  • Power to Decide, a campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy by ensuring that all young people have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.

This issue brief on contraception is the second part of the Center’s “Serving Those Who Serve?” series focusing on reproductive care for military personnel, veterans and their families. The first brief in the series addressed access to abortion care. The third brief addresses access to access to infertility care, including IVF coverage and services.