Group says prescription contraception should be free across BC

Sep 26 2019, 1:51 pm

A BC group is pushing for prescription contraceptives to be free across the province.

AccessBC is calling on the BC Government to cover the cost of oral contraceptives, intrauterine devices (IUD), and hormone injections.

In an online statement, AccessBC says the costs of contraception “[falls] disproportionately on women and people with uteruses, and cost represents a significant barrier, particularly to women with low incomes, youth, and people from marginalized communities.”

AccessBC says an IUD ranges between $75 and $380, oral pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections can add up to as much as $180 per year.

“These costs make prescription contraception difficult or even impossible to access for the people who need it most,” says AccessBC, adding that it often results in unintended pregnancies.

According to a 2016 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, “one in five Canadian women had an unplanned pregnancy in 2016, and as many as 61% of Canadian women have had unintended pregnancy. Across Canada, 59,000 young people under the age of 24 had unintended pregnancies in 2014.”

AccessBC says the province could adopt a system similar to Mifegymiso, the abortion pill that was made universally available at no cost in January 2018.

“In fact, programs that offer free prescription contraception to women have been found to be revenue positive! This is because the cost of providing free prescription contraception to women is considerably lower than the costs associated with unintended pregnancy,” says the organization.

A 2010 report from Options for Sexual Health estimated that the BC government could save up to $95 million annually if it implemented a program of universal access to prescription contraception.

“We are urging the BC Government to make the provision of no-cost prescription contraception in the 2020 budget as expansive as possible,” said AccessBC.

“The most straightforward and maximally effective policy would be to make no-cost prescription contraception available to everyone. If the government wishes to take a more ‘targeted’ approach, we are advocating for a policy which would offer no-cost prescription contraception to all people 25 and younger.”

AccessBC is encouraging British Columbians to write their MLAs to voice the need for universal prescription contraception.

Earlier this year, the country’s national association of pediatricians recommended that young Canadians get free access to contraceptives such as birth control and condoms.

The Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS) said that while access to contraception is recognized as a basic human right, the cost of birth control, condoms, and IUDs often hold Canadian youth back from accessing these preventative methods.