Accessible birth control

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A bill introduced by an Idaho Senate panel would make birth control more accessible for women in the state.

Senate Bill 1281, presented by Cherie Buckner-Webb, D-Boise, in the Senate Health and Welfare Committee Feb. 7, would allow women to receive up to a year’s supply of prescribed birth control. Currently, there is a one- to three-month limit on most Idahoans because of their health insurance policies.

Buckner-Webb said 11 states, including Nevada, and Washington D.C. have passed similar legislation.

She said the bill would make birth control more accessible to women who have difficulties picking it up that frequently.

“Many women in rural Idaho must travel considerable distances to a pharmacy to access birth control on a monthly basis,” Buckner-Webb said. “Access to birth control should not depend on an insurance carrier. Provision of 12-month birth control will reduce barriers to access.”

She said women serving in the military, and professional women who may be travelling, would also benefit.

By lessening the hassle of driving to the pharmacy, Buckner-Webb said it will also make it easier to use birth control consistently, which she said would decrease the likelihood of unplanned pregnancies.

While a primary purpose of birth control is preventing pregnancy, Bucker-Webb said it also can help with various issues associated with the female reproductive system, including hormonal issues and menopause.

The committee introduced the bill without discussion. It must next pass a full hearing.

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Nina Rydalch covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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