Press Release - September 26, 2022
AccessBC Campaign Statement for World Contraception Day & A Night for Action Event
Access to contraception is a human right. Universal coverage for contraception empowers people, improves health outcomes, and leads to significant cost savings. This World Contraception Day, September 26, 2022, the AccessBC Campaign is once again calling on the BC government to fulfil its election promise.
On the eve or World Contraception Day, a group of passionate British Columbians united their voices with calls to action and stories of the impact of barriered to prescription contraception during a live letter writing event co-hosted by AccessBC Municipal Outreach Coordinator Jessica L. Jimmo, and New Westminster City Councillor Nadine Nakagawa.
“Lately many of us have been reflecting on who has access to reproductive health care and the necessity of this type of healthcare for all members of our community," said Nakagawa during the Night for Action event. "Contraceptives are essential and the BC government has a real opportunity to take action in the next budget that will make an immediate difference in peoples’ lives. ”
“MLAs around the province are waking up to the reminder that the citizens they represent are still waiting on the unfulfilled promise to make all prescription contraception options free in BC,” said Jessica L. Jimmo.
Since its inception, the AccessBC Campaign has mobilised thousands of British Columbians to write to their MLAs and call on them to make all prescription contraception free. This call to action comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to remove barriers to contraception.
“Existing barriers to accessing contraception in our healthcare system, like cost, being a young person, or living in rural, Northern, or Indigenous communities, have been magnified by the pandemic and continue to disadvantage these groups,” said Dr. Ruth Habte, a Resident Physician in Obstetrics and Gynaecology and Campaign Coordinator. “I have seen too many cases of unplanned pregnancies due to patients not being able to access the contraceptive of their choice. Of these barriers, cost remains one of the largest barriers to accessing these vital medicines.”
Currently, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $380, oral contraceptive pills can cost $20 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs are a significant barrier to accessing contraception for many people across Canada, and fall particularly on women and people who can get pregnant.
“Access to contraception is an issue of equity, both in terms of gender and socioeconomic status. Barriers to access such as cost fall disproportionately on people with uteruses, and more significantly affect those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged,” said Marisa Levesque, UBC medical student and AccessBC Campaign member. “Allowing all people to make choices about if and when they have children promotes equity in areas such as educational attainment and lifetime earnings.”
In Canada, unintended pregnancies cost Canadian health systems over $61 million annually. Studies have shown that providing universal contraception coverage could see that entire amount saved in as little as six to twelve months. An Options for Sexual Health study from 2010 estimated that the BC government could save as much as $95 million annually - nearly twice the projected cost of implementing this policy. A separate 2015 study in the Canadian Association Medical Journal estimated that the annual cost of delivering universal contraception across Canada would be $157 million, but the savings - for direct medical costs of unintended pregnancy alone - would be approximately $320 million.
“Universal no-cost prescription contraception will not only improve health outcomes for mothers and infants, increase equality, and make life affordable, but it will also save the government millions,” said Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and Co-Founder of the AccessBC Campaign. “The fact that people in BC continue to face barriers to accessing prescription contraception is unconscionable. Reproductive rights are human rights, and when it comes to reproductive justice in BC, we still have a lot of work to do.”
In addition to its call for universal no-cost prescription contraception, the AccessBC Campaign has added its voice to a growing group of civil society actors who have drafted and signed a Reproductive Justice Manifesto. This document calls on the provincial governments to:
Make contraception free and universally accessible.
Ensure that comprehensive sex education is taught to the standards set by the Ministry of Education in BC.
Strengthen abortion access in rural and remote areas.
Do not give Crisis Pregnancy Centres any government funds or tax credits, and require them to clearly disclose their anti-abortion agenda to clients.
Make abortion accessible within the City of Vancouver’s Access without Fear/Sanctuary City policy framework, which allows undocumented people to access free care.
Implement $10/day childcare.
Make sexual and reproductive health care more trans- and gender-inclusive, including training healthcare providers on appropriate practices and language, and other initiatives led by the trans community to reduce stigma.
Provide meaningful additional funding directly to provincial health systems, earmarked for abortion access, rather than directing funding through non-government bodies.
"Law and policies that fail to remove barriers for people who can get pregnant, fail to uphold their sexual and reproductive health and human rights. It is essential people in all of their diversity are free from discrimination of their socioeconomic status, age, sexual identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, race, ethnicity or legal status in BC,” said Jimmo. “Anyone who needs it should have barrierless access to safe, effective and affordable methods of contraception of their choice, including short and long acting methods.”
"Access to contraception is a right, not a privilege. It's time that the BC NDP step up to the plate for reproductive rights like they promised to do in 2020,” said Jonathan Granirer, AccessBC Campaign volunteer.