Removing Barriers to Reproductive Health

Oct 5th, 2016 | By | Category: Reproductive Rights/Women's Rights

By Suzanne York.

[photo credit:]

[photo credit:]

Recent legislation in California is empowering women to make the best choices for themselves and their families, in terms of reproductive health.

Though it seems as if our nation should have passed legislation easing access to reproductive health years ago, it’s nevertheless a positive path forward. As the saying goes, “better late than never.”

Last month, Jerry Brown, governor of California, signed into law two reproductive rights bills. Under Senate Bill 999, women in the state will be able to get up to a 12-month supply of contraception. Long-term access to contraceptives will make it easier for women to consistently use them. Sen. Fran Pavley, who authored SB 999, said “Unlike with other medications, to go even a day or two without birth control can result in a serious consequence. This change will make women’s lives easier and dramatically reduce the risk of unintended pregnancy.” 

An analysis of SB 999 by University of California medical researchers earlier this year estimated that the bill’s enactment would result in 15,000 fewer unintended pregnancies and save employers, consumers and government agencies a combined $42.8 million each year. 

Per the National Partnership for Women and Families, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that women who use contraception receive up to a 12-month supply of contraception, and stated that policies that cap contraceptive supplies can force women to discontinue birth control before they want to and result in increased rates of unintended pregnancy.

At least five states and Washington, D.C. have approved similar legislation covering longer-term access to contraceptives. The California law takes effect next January 1st. As reported by the Kaiser Family Foundation, as of May 2016, legislatures in the following states had introduced legislation requiring coverage for 12 months of oral contraceptives:  Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin.

[image credit:]

[image credit:]

Governor Brown also signed into law Assembly Bill 1954, which prohibits health plans and insurers from requiring a member to receive a referral before they may receive reproductive and sexual health care. According to Julie Rabinovitz, President and CEO of California Family Health Council, “Women and men across California will now be able to bypass unnecessary administrative burdens to access the time sensitive sexual and reproductive health services they need – when they need them.”

And later this year, it is expected that a 2013 law allowing California women to be able to go straight to the pharmacy for the contraception will go into effect. This allows licensed pharmacists authorization to prescribe self-administered hormonal contraceptives.

Accessing contraceptives and family planning services shouldn’t be a burden. Fewer trips to a medical provider means more time that a woman has to spend on herself, her family, and other pursuits. And that’s a good thing.


Suzanne York is Project Director of Transition Earth.

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