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March 7, 2022

Pressley, Lee, DeGette, Chu, Colleagues Urge Swift and Science-Based FDA Consideration of Over-The-Counter Birth Control

Text to Letter (PDF)

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), alongside Reps. Barbara Lee (D-CA), Diana DeGette (D-CO), and Judy Chu (D-CA), led more than 50 of their colleagues in sending a letter today to Dr. Robert Califf, the newly confirmed commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, urging the agency to “follow the science” as it considers making birth control pills available to Americans over the counter, without the need for a prescription.

“This is a critical issue for reproductive health, rights, and justice,” the lawmakers wrote. “We ask for your ongoing commitment to advance public health and follow the science and data in all decisions, including the timely review of the oral contraception applications.”

The lawmakers noted that oral contraception is one of the most studied medications on the market, with widespread evidence supporting the safety and benefits of making it available to patients over the counter.

“Despite decades of proven safety and effectiveness, people still face immense barriers to getting birth control due to systemic inequities in our healthcare system,” the lawmakers wrote. “These barriers are disproportionately borne by people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, low-income individuals, young people, and people in rural communities – individuals who have faced and continue to face the greatest inequities.”

The letter comes as Pro-Choice Caucus leaders continue their push to make oral contraception, whether it is obtained through a prescription or over-the-counter, available to all those who need without any cost sharing.

As part of that effort, Pro-Choice leaders are also working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to strengthen existing rules that require insurers to cover contraception to ensure that cost is never a barrier for people to obtain the contraceptive product of their choice.

Full text of the letter can be found here.

Rep. Pressley has advocated for equitable reproductive rights since her time on the Boston City Council and throughout her time in Congress.

In June 2021, Congresswoman Pressley, along with U.S. Representatives Judy Chu (D-CA), Lois Frankel (D-FL), Veronica Escobar (D-TX) and Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI),  introduced the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA), bicameral federal legislation to guarantee equal access to abortion care, everywhere.  

In September 2021, Rep. Pressley issued a statement condemning the Supreme Court’s inaction on SB-8, Texas’ restrictive abortion law. Later that month, she participated in a House Oversight Committee hearing to examine the threat posed by abortion bans and underscored the urgency of the Senate passing the Women’s Health Protection Act. In December, she condemned the Supreme Court’s failure to put an end to SB8 and allow the egregious law to continue.

As Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus’s Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, Congresswoman Pressley fought tirelessly to repeal the Hyde Amendment and protect comprehensive reproductive health care for all, including abortion care.

Over the course of her first term serving in Congress, Congresswoman Pressley filed amendments every year to repeal Hyde from annual Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bills and in July published a Medium post on the importance of doing so.

    In April, Rep. Pressley, along with Congresswomen Barbara Lee (CA-13), Diana DeGette (CO-01) and Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), led a group of 131 Democratic members in reintroducing the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance Act or the EACH Act, which would repeal the Hyde Amendment and ensure that all people, regardless of income, insurance or zip code, can make personal reproductive health care decisions without interference from politicians. In May 2020, she led more than 155 Members of Congress in calling on House Democratic leadership to ensure that any future COVID-19 relief packages rejected Republican efforts to use the public health crisis to diminish abortion access. In May 2019, she led more than 100 colleagues in introducing H.Con.Res.40, a resolution reaffirming the House of Representative’s support for Roe v. Wade. In June 2019, Rep. Pressley introduced H.R. 3296, the Affordability is Access Act, to make oral contraception available without a prescription.  In September 2016, as a member of the Boston City Council, Pressley championed a resolution calling on Congress and President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and reinstate insurance coverage for abortion services.