Developments in Birth Control Law

In 1965, the US Supreme Court in Griswold v. Connecticut where the court held that mmarried couples has a constitutional right to use contraceptives. This judgement brought to forefront the highly emotive and volatile issue of birth control laws in the United States. Not too long ago, birth control was illegal. Since the Court has made it clear that no one (single or married) should be denied access to contraceptive and the state should not interfere with the person’s choice on whether or not to have children. The birth control methods have come a long way from the male condom to the “morning after” pill. This section contains information about the legal issues on birth control post Griswold.

“Morning-After” Pill

The “morning after” pill was introduced in the market in 1996 after it was approved by the FDA. It was sold as emergency contraception pills. Initially it was sold as Plan B, an over the counter emergency contraceptive for adult women. Women under 18 needed a doctor’s prescription until the Supreme Court removed this restriction in 2009. Many states have emergency contraception laws that allow:

• Emergency Contraception

• Health care facilities, clinics and hospitals to information and provide emergency contraception to sexually assaulted women

• Pharmacists working with physicians or having completed a training program to provide emergency contraception

Parental Consent

Clinics that receive federal funding must notify the parents of a minor who seeks prescription contraceptive. The law on parental consent for contraception varies from state to state.

In 2005, minors in 21 states could access contraception services without the need for parental consent. In 25 states, parental consent was not needed if a doctor determines that there is a health hazard or the minor is married or under certain circumstances prescribed by state law. In the few states that do not have any law on parental consent, the physicians could take a call on whether or not to provide contraception services to minors without parental consent.

There are groups in favor of parental support and there are those who are opposed to parental support. The supporters claim that parents have the right to be informed of their children sexual activity, the opponents claim that these laws can actually increase sexual behavior amongst minors.

Health Insurance

Whether or not prescription birth control should be covered by health insurance is a hotly debated issue in the United States. In 1998 the law required all federal employees to be covered for prescription contraceptives. Whether or not a particular method of contraception will be covered by insurance will depend on state and federal laws. Many states have passed laws requiring prescription birth control to be covered by insurance. But there are states that do not have such requirements.

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