Campaign group pushing for free prescription contraceptives in BC
A local advocacy group is hoping to get free prescription contraceptives into BC's 2020 budget in February.
Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff of the campaign group AccessBC said they are asking people to write or phone their local MLAs to let them know they want to see universal prescription birth control in the province.
According to a 2010 study from Options for Sexual Health, the BC government could save as much as $95 million annually if it implemented a program of universal access to prescription contraception.
"If you can't afford prescription medication, you probably also can't afford to take care of a child, and then those costs then fall upon the state. There's more to it than that, unintended pregnancies have higher health risks, so for example, if you have a surpise pregnancy and you want to carrry it to term, you may have been engaging unknowingly in risky behaviour that might make that a higher risk pregnancy," said Phelps Bondaroff.
Two years ago, the provincial government made Mifegymsio (commonly known as 'Missy'), a pill that triggers a miscarriage up to nine weeks, freely available.
"That pill costs about $350 a pill, so imagine you've got the abortion pill at $350, that works once, compared to something like an IUD that someone can use for five to 10 years. So you're getting much more bang for your buck as it were."
According to Phelps Bondaroff, the costs of contraceptives are a major barrier for people wanting to utilize them, a sentiment backed up by a study from the University of British Columbia, which found that "young, low-income women in Canada are less likely to use more effective methods of birth control like the pill, and more likely to use no contraception or condoms only."
In BC, an intra-uterine device (IUD) can cost between $75 and $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injection can cost as much as $180 per year. For some, those costs mean the difference between using contraceptives or not.
Phelps Bondaroff said they've sent hundreds of letters to provincial MLAs pushing the issue, but they need more help if it's going to make it to the budget.
"We really need people's support, these kinds of things only make the budget if people let the government know that it should be included in the budget. We're encouraging people to visit our website, write a letter to your MLA and let them know that you want to see free prescription contraception on the 2020 provincial budget."
For more information on AccessBC or their campaign, you can visit their website here.