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U.S. women now have access to free birth control

A big change for American women came into effect earlier this week.

Aug. 1, 2012, marked the day that 47 million women started to have access to free birth control, thanks to the new healthcare law.

Under the new policy, women with private health insurance will no longer be required to pay co-pays on prescriptions for any type of contraception, although the insurers may choose to cover only the cheapest brands.

The regulation, which is part of U.S. President Barack Obama’s flagship Affordable Care Act, also provides for free mammograms, pap smears, domestic violence screening and some pregnancy-related services.