2011.11.21 Ovarian Cancer Advocates Support Broad Access to Oral Contraceptives as Preventive Medicine; Oppose Broadening of Religious Exemptions

Washington, DC—In July 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services adopted recommendations on services that would be covered with no co-pay for women under the Affordable Care Act, including oral contraceptives. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance praised that decision, as oral contraceptives are one of two methods known to reduce a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer.

“There is no question that birth control is preventive medicine,” said Ovarian Cancer National Alliance CEO Karen Orloff Kaplan, MSW, MPH, ScD. “The research is clear: oral contraceptives can reduce a woman’s risk of developing this disease by as much 50 percent.”

Along with other women’s and public health organizations, the Alliance has opposed any broadening of current religious exemptions to this rule, which could deny women access to oral contraceptives. “We applauded the inclusion of oral contraception as a covered health benefit. We hope that that greater access to preventive methods will reduce the number of women who die from ovarian cancer,” says Dr. Kaplan. “I hope that the administration will stand firm and ensure that as many women as possible have access to oral contraception through their health insurance.”

In addition to oral contraceptives, removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes (known as prophylactic or risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) is proven to reduce a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. More information about risk factors associated with ovarian cancer can be found on the Alliance website.

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is the foremost advocate for women with ovarian cancer in the United States. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, the organization advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks, signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a 501 (c) (3) organization established in 1997.