The passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a monumental victory for all Americans. In particular, the passage of this bill led to one of the most important advances for women's health in decades: a new regulation requiring insurance coverage for birth control with no co-pays. This was a huge victory for both women and men everywhere.
But recently, a number of anti-women health groups and their allies in Congress launched a massive campaign to take this vital coverage away from women. Republican leaders and many others are pressuring the Obama Administration to eliminate this coverage for millions of people who work at religiously-affiliated hospitals, universities, and other organizations.
Let's be clear -- when we passed the health reform law, it was our goal to expand coverage to all people in need of quality, affordable care -- not limit coverage to only certain categories of people. It is essential that the women's preventive coverage benefit, including contraception, be available to all women, regardless of what health plan they have or where they work -- as Congress intended. Providing access to birth control just makes good sense. The venerable, nonpartisan Institute of Medicine recommended that birth control be included as a women's preventive service because it is fundamental to improving women's health and the health of their families.
Covering contraception is the single most important step our country can take toward reducing unintended pregnancies. Additionally, improved access to birth control is directly linked to declines in maternal and infant mortality rates, which are currently near those of third world countries in my home state of Wisconsin, and a true epidemic within the City of Milwaukee.
A large majority of the American people are on our side, including 72 percent of Republican women voters who support birth control coverage. That is why we cannot let these groups who are seeking to dismantle this crucial coverage for women succeed. Both Congress and the Obama Administration must stand strong against this misguided campaign and stand up for the rights of women across this country.