President Joe Biden's executive order was seen as an attempt to require insurers to cover additional birth control products amid a broader push by the administration to promote reproductive care one year after the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade. Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo
June 23 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday to expand access to free birth control, including over-the-counter contraception and family planning services, the White House announced.
As part of the order, Biden has directed the treasury, labor, and health and human services departments to put new policies in place that would boost birth control options and ensure health insurance coverage for all contraceptives approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
In signing the order, Biden said, "Women should have access to the healthcare they need, including contraception and family planning services."
He added: "Access to contraception is essential to ensuring that all people have control over personal decisions about their own health, lives and families."
The order, which is Biden's first focused specifically on protecting and expanding access to contraception, also aims to boost attainability of Plan B emergency contraception -- commonly known as the "morning-after pill" -- that can prevent pregnancy up to five days after sex.
Currently, there were 18 government-approved contraceptives on the market, but the Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover only one, leaving many women with few if any options for care.
"We know that some women with private health insurance continue to face barriers getting the contraception that they need," said Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council.
Biden's action was seen as an attempt to require insurers to cover additional birth control products amid a broader push by the administration to promote reproductive care one year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, barring the constitutional right to an abortion after it had been legal for 50 years.
Notably, Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a concurring opinion as part of the ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson that suggested the court should also reconsider the constitutional right to birth control.
"Access to contraception has become even more important in the wake of Dobbs and the ensuing crisis in women's access to healthcare," Klein said.
Since the ruling, nearly two dozen Republican-led states have enacted abortion bans and restrictions, while other legislatures nationwide have placed increasing limits on abortion medications.
Despite the conservative efforts, the ACA -- enacted during the Obama administration -- still guarantees coverage of pregnancy-prevention services, including free birth control and contraceptive counseling in all 50 states.
Across the country, there is broad bipartisan support for improved access to birth control, while ultraconservatives maintain there is no difference between contraception and abortion.
The executive order is Biden's third directive to protect women's health in light of the high court ruling and with Republicans in control of Congress.
Previously, the president signed two executive orders to help women who need to travel out of state to receive abortions, and to ensure women receive prompt emergency care in accordance with federal law.
The president issued no timeline for the agencies to carry out his latest order.