Readout of HHS Secretary Becerra’s Roundtable on Contraception Access
Biden Harris-Administration Hosted a Roundtable to Hear Directly from Researchers On the Ground About Barriers to Contraception Care in the Aftermath of the Dobbs Decision, and Reaffirm Commitment to Expanding Access to Contraception
On Monday, November 6, 2023, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra hosted a roundtable to hear from medical providers, reproductive health experts, and data scientists to understand barriers to reproductive health research following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision. The group shared insights about the impact of Dobbs on contraception access and use, best practices for person-centered service delivery, and innovation in contraceptive methods.
This roundtable marked the 4th meeting in a series hosted by the Secretary’s Task Force on Reproductive Health in response to President Biden’s Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services, which directed HHS to consider ways to measure the impact of access to reproductive health care on maternal and other health outcomes. Topics of the three previous roundtables focused on research related to abortion access, including the impact of state laws on women’s health and the ability to leverage existing data sources for abortion research. These roundtables featured expert researchers and clinicians and provided important perspectives on how to document the public health impacts of the Dobbs decision and how to close important knowledge gaps in abortion care and access.
Secretary Becerra was joined by Jennifer Klein, Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Gender Policy Council. Both leaders highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration's commitment to protecting access to reproductive health care, including contraception in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision.
Secretary Becerra thanked participants and underscored the need to support those who are seeking reproductive care and contraception, as well as those providing that care. “I want to thank you all for being a part of this. This is an all hands on deck effort. Dobbs cannot get in the way when it comes to contraception access. We cannot let access to health care be turned upside down.”
Some of the attendees who participated in Monday’s event on contraception access included:
- Rebecca Simmons, PhD, University of Utah
- Jamie Hart, PhD, MPH, Coalition to Expand Contraceptive Access
- Megan L. Kavanaugh, PhD, Guttmacher Institute
- Kelly Cleland, MPH, American Society for Emergency Contraception
- Kavita Shah Arora, MD, MBE, University of North Carolina Health
- Kelly Blanchard, MSc, Ibis Reproductive Health
- Sally Rafie, PharmD, BCPS, APh, NCMP, Founder of Birth Control Pharmacist
Participants discussed the importance of centering community-level and individual voices from the beginning of the research progress; stories of contraception access at universities across the country; support for pharmacists as contraceptive care providers; and trends in permanent contraception methods. Participants also discussed the chilling effect that the Dobbs decision has had on reproductive health care more broadly and the need to increase information sharing and address gaps in knowledge about contraception and how to access it.
This roundtable is just one way that HHS is working to advance access to affordable, high-quality contraception. To help address the gaps in the health care system, HHS announced a public-private partnership with Upstream to expand access to contraception. Through a five-year agreement, HHS and Upstream will focus on identifying and addressing areas of high need for contraceptive care. This public-private partnership is a continuation of HHS’ ongoing efforts to implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Strengthening Access to Affordable, High-Quality Contraception and Family Planning Services.
And in July, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the Opill (Norgestrel) as the first daily oral contraceptive approved for use in the U.S. without a prescription. This over-the-counter birth control option will remove barriers to purchasing oral contraceptive medicine at drug stores, convenience stores, grocery stores, and online. HHS has also made sure that folks have contraceptive coverage through Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act Marketplace, among other programs.
This roundtable builds on the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic actions to protect and expand access to contraception. At the close of the roundtable, Secretary Becerra assured the group that the Biden Harris Administration will continue to take action to protect access to reproductive and contraception care in the aftermath of Dobbs.