The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled to strike the Patient Protection and ACA’s requirement for health insurance plans to cover the total costs of contraception. The American Nurses Association (ANA) released a statement about their disappointment in this ruling.

We interviewed Cheryl Peterson, MSN, RN, the ANA Vice President of Nursing Practice and Work Environment about ANA’s stance and what this ruling means for the nation.

Why is ANA disappointed in the recent ruling of the Supreme Court to strike down the Patient Protection and ACA’s requirement for health insurance plans to cover the total costs of contraception?

ANA firmly believes all people have the right to determine how and in what form they receive health care. This recent decision from the Supreme Court affects millions of women and health care consumers who have depended on this mandate to offset some of the costs of reproductive health care. For some people, contraception can be a considerable expense. During this COVID-19 pandemic, many people are furloughed or receiving a limited income. Therefore, they may have no choice but to go without contraception health services.

Why is ANA taking a stand on this?

The American Nurses Association (ANA) has advocated for not only nurses, but for quality health care of all people—for decades. With regard to the recent SCOTUS decision on the ACA contraception mandate, we must ensure that all women and health care consumers are provided equal access to quality health care and are provided the proper counseling. All patients have a right to make their own decision about their medical care and treatment.

What do you think is going to happen to the women who counted on this coverage? Why? Do you think this may result in more unplanned pregnancies?

Unfortunately, many women are already facing tough economic challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These women might have to compromise other necessities to obtain contraception coverage or may even have to sacrifice their own reproductive health because they simply don’t have the financial means to obtain these health services. The latter scenario could possibly lead to unplanned pregnancies.

What can be done to help them? What can nurses do in their proverbial “own back yards” to help these women?

Nurses can use their voices to educate women on what their best options are for affordable, quality reproductive health care, which includes contraception and contraception counseling. Nurses can also provide insights and advice on types of contraception for women with particular health needs and concerns.

What kind of challenges is the Supreme Court’s ruling going to cause?

Decisions regarding reproductive health and family planning are inherently personal. The outcome of this ruling jeopardizes a women’s ability to collaborate with her trusted primary health care provider or see the same practitioner for follow-up visits. In addition, this could result in reduced access to crucial and medically necessary health care services and the further exacerbation of health disparities.

Are there any other places that may cover the cost that remains for contraception?

Title X family planning programs have a decades long history of bridging gaps and providing comprehensive family planning and preventive health services to individuals needing access to these services.

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