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S. 2960 (114th): Access to Birth Control Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 19, 2016.


Access to Birth Control Act

This bill amends the Public Health Service Act to require pharmacies to comply with certain rules related to contraceptives, including: (1) providing a customer a contraceptive without delay if it is in stock; (2) immediately informing a customer if the contraceptive is not in stock and either transferring the prescription to a pharmacy that has the contraceptive in stock or ordering the contraceptive and notifying the customer when it arrives, based on customer preference, except for pharmacies that do not ordinarily stock contraceptives; and (3) ensuring that pharmacy employees do not take certain actions relating to a request for contraception, including intimidating, threatening, or harassing customers, interfering with the delivery of services, intentionally deceiving customers about the availability or mechanism of action of contraception, breaching or threatening to breach medical confidentiality, or refusing to return a prescription.

The bill does not prohibit a pharmacy from refusing to provide a contraceptive to a customer if: (1) it is unlawful to dispense the contraceptive to the customer without a prescription and no prescription is presented; (2) the customer is unable to pay for the contraceptive; or (3) the pharmacy employee refuses to provide the contraceptive on the basis of a professional clinical judgment.

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 does not provide a claim or a defense to a claim concerning the requirements of this bill or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of these requirements.

The bill does not preempt state law or any professional obligation of a state board that provides greater protections for customers.

Civil penalties and a private cause of action are established for violations of this bill.