The laws surrounding reproductive health are constantly in flux every few years or decades, as swayed by political movements and policies. Due to this, it may be challenging for individuals to keep up with the rights afforded to them and others that no longer apply.

Having said this, federal and state laws still have permanent mandates in place that ensure a minimum list of benefits for American citizens. This also includes many cases where federal law triumphs over a state law that doctors and patients need to be aware of to remain in compliance. These are put in place to keep insurers compliant with the law and provide necessary information to patients in need of it.  

Here are four things to know about reproductive health laws in the United States: 

1. Abortion Services

Since the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court, your state’s laws now have precedence over your access to abortion. This means you’ll need to find out about the established laws on abortion in your state, and whether they’re changing or staying the same, as these are the only laws that will apply. Additionally, your research should include any up-to-date laws that might persecute you if you travel interstate to access abortion services if you live in a state where it’s banned. 

If you do currently live in a state where abortion rights are protected, you have the option to receive federally regulated abortion services from certified providers. Just be aware of states where the procedure is legal but with restrictions, such as with Florida abortion laws, for instance.

In any case, providers include dispensed abortion medication from a pharmacy and an in-person procedure from a clinic, hospital, or healthcare facility. These can be covered by your healthcare insurer, your own funds out of pocket, or financial assistance from social organizations. Under federal law, the Medicaid state program can only provide free abortion coverage in cases of rape, incest, or if a pregnancy is life-threatening. 

2. Emergency Care 

Again, it’s imperative to be aware of how new or remaining laws in your state will affect your reproductive rights after the supreme court decision. Those laws, however, don’t apply during emergency care as federal law takes precedence in every state in these cases. Under federal law, hospitals must provide you with emergency medical examinations and screenings upon your request.

It’s also a compliance-driven law that takes precedence over a physician’s personal beliefs and state laws. This also means patients are within their rights to file a complaint should any doctor not act on immediate emergency care. Additionally, any physician that discovers and diagnoses your condition as a medical emergency is obliged to give you emergency medical stabilizing treatment or transfer you to a medical facility that can. 

This emergency care includes giving you the pill to induce abortion, laparoscopy, or taking emergency contraception, if it’s meant to save your life. Furthermore, the healthcare provider shouldn’t wait for your condition to worsen before administering life-saving treatment. This applies regardless of whether you’re insured or have the ability to pay. These laws are enforced by the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act or the EMTALA statute. 

3. Birth Control 

The Affordable Care Act coverage, as well as plans under the Health Insurance Marketplace are required under federal law to provide beneficiaries with contraception and family planning counseling. These plans should also provide coverage without co-payments or out-of-pocket pay when using an in-network healthcare service. These include FDA-approved contraception methods that fall into the following categories: 

  • Barrier methods (sperm blockers) – cervical caps, sponges, vaginal spermicides
  • Hormonal methods (prevents fertilization) – birth control pills, vaginal rings, skin patches
  • Implant methods (prevents fertilization) – IUDs, arm rod implants
  • Sterilization methods (permanent contraception) – laparoscopy, hysteroscopy
  • Any new and additional contraception approved by the FDA (education and pregnancy prevention) – fertility awareness method, mucus method, and new health devices

On top of these, healthcare providers are obligated to provide sex education and counseling. This means they must give you honest information and advice on any topic, such as the various types of birth control, should you seek to find out more, and whether it’s a viable option for you.

Keep in mind that there are a few exemptions that apply to workers who receive benefits sponsored by an employer, especially for some religious organizations. In this case, it’s best to check with your healthcare provider. Otherwise, you may have to get co-insurance to get access to birth control services. 

4. Women’s Preventative Health Services 

Reproductive health laws require all health insurance plans including, the Marketplace health plans, to cover a list of free minimum preventative health services to women without copayments or coinsurance when they use a network provider. They must cover women who are sexually active, are at high risk, are currently pregnant, or will become pregnant in the near future.

The said services include: 

  • Breastfeeding and counseling for pregnant women
  • STI screenings and counseling for all women
  • Contraceptives and birth control counseling 
  • HIV prevention medication, screenings, and counselling for all women, especially high-risk
  • Supplements and counselling for women who’ll become pregnant
  • Prenatal, maternity, and gestational diabetes, and post-birth screenings for pregnant women
  • Annual well woman visits and screenings

These health services and many more are on the recommended list of the well woman chart initiative as they pertain to reproductive rights. It provides guidelines for clinicians, patients, and civic healthcare organizations on the minimum care that insurance plans must provide to prevent disease and illnesses, and promote women’s reproductive health. It applies to women starting from age 13, as well as pregnant women of any age. 


The recent supreme court decision has changed reproductive healthcare laws for the whole country, making it more crucial for you to know how it’ll affect you. Depending on the state you live in, getting access to reproductive services may become more challenging. 

However, federal laws still protect your rights in specific circumstances where your providers are obligated to dispense to you. In the end, staying informed with updated laws and in contact with your clinicians and healthcare providers are, still, a must-do.

Disclaimer : Please consult a doctor before consuming any pills.