In honour of World Contraception Day – which takes place on Sept. 26 annually – AccessBC and Options for Sexual Health are asking the B.C. government to make all forms of prescription birth free and to support health care sites in providing the full range of contraception options.
World Contraception Day raises awareness about contraception and safe sex. It also falls within the 2019 Canadian Gender Equality Week – Sept. 23-27. AccessBC and Options for Sexual Health argue that unencumbered access to contraception is not only empowering, but promotes equality and better overall health, encourages safe sex and will lower rates of unintended pregnancies which the groups say will save the province money.
Access BC and Options for Sexual Health feel it’s time for B.C. to join other countries around the world and remove the cost barrier to contraception access by including provisions in the 2020 budget. Birth control pills cost about $20 per month and an intra-uterine device can cost between $75 and $380. Youth, minorities and folks with low incomes are disproportionately affected by the cost barriers, noted the groups in a joint statement. AccessBC and Options for Sexual Health feel that personal preference should guide people’s contraception choices rather than cost.
Michelle Fortion, executive director of Option for Sexual Health, noted that Canadian contraceptive care providers have identified cost as being the biggest barrier to access.
In a 2015 study of the cost of universal prescription drug coverage in Canada, it was noted that free contraception would cost the country $157-million. However, the money saved by avoiding the medical costs relating to unintended pregnancies would be about $320-million. According to Options for Sexual Health, B.C. alone could save an estimated $95-million per year if prescription birth control was funded by the province.
Teale Phelps Bondaroff, chair and co-Founder of AccessBC noted that people have a right to birth control and that cost shouldn’t be a barrier.
“Anyone should be able to exercise their right to say what happens to their body, and to decide when - or if - they have children,” said Phelps Bondaroff, a Saanich-based researcher.
Those interested in writing to their MLA can submit a letter via the AccessBC website.