(CNSNews.com) - Three Democratic Senators have written a letter to Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to “request that the Department of Defense (DOD) bolster contraception education and access” to service members.
Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) sent a letter saying that military women "may not have access to the most effective or preferred methods of contaception" and that the DOD should do more to stop unwanted pregnancies.
“We write today to request that the Department of Defense bolster contraception education and access for servicemembers and their families,” the letter dated Sept. 23 says.
The letter cites a study indicating that 10 percent of active duty females experience unintended pregnancies during deployment each year and asks the DOD to address barriers to “contraceptive access.”
“One barrier to contraceptive access is a lack of consistent pre-deployment counseling on contraception across all four services,” the letter says. “Current pre-deployment health assessments are not uniform across DOD.”
“Other documented impediments to female servicemembers’ contraceptive access include difficulties obtaining refills during deployment, confidentiality concerns for healthcare privacy, stigma, shortages of providers overseas, and difficulty taking oral contraceptives under austere deployment conditions,” the letter states.
Among the lawmakers’ requests in the letter is that the DOD:
- Ensure that every MTF (military treatment facility) has a sufficient stock of a broad range of FDA-approved methods of contraception to dispense to any female servicemember of the Armed Forces and female covered beneficiaries.
- Support LARC (long acting reversible contraceptives) one day training programs for DOD healthcare provider teams.
The letter urges the DOD to take immediate action, since failure to provide adequate contraception “compromises the preparedness of our troops.”