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World Contraception Day - Joint Statement

Options for Sexual Health - AccessBC 

September 23rd to 27th is Gender Equality Week, and September 26th, 2019 is World Contraception Day.  It is time for BC to join numerous other jurisdictions that have adopted similar measures to remove barriers to accessing contraception, such as the UK, France, Spain, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Italy, and Germany.

Access to contraception is a fundamental human right. People across British Columbia face numerous and compounding barriers to accessing contraception. As a result, many may be forced to employ less reliable methods, methods that do not work for them, or no methods at all. As a result, too many people suffer negative health outcomes, and unintended pregnancies. 

Unintended pregnancy can:

  • Come with high personal costs, and derail life plans;

  • Have higher risks of negative health impacts for both the parent and child; and 

  • Have significant costs to our health and social services systems.

Choice should be the driver for people seeking contraception - not cost. An intra-uterine 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 fall disproportionately on people with low incomes, youth, and people from marginalized communities.

“Our clinicians at Options for Sexual Health and other Canadian contraceptive care providers identify cost as the single most important barrier to access,” says Michelle Fortin, Executive Director of Options for Sexual Health.

 “Money should never be a barrier to someone accessing their rights,” says Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff, Chair and Co-Founder of AccessBC. “Anyone should be able to exercise their right to say what happens to their body, and to decide when - or if - they have children.”

A 2015 study in the Canadian Association Medical Journal estimated that the cost of delivering universal contraception in Canada would be $157 million, but the savings - for direct medical costs of unintended pregnancy alone - would be approximately $320 million. 

Options for Sexual Health (2010) estimated that every $1 spent on contraceptive support for a woman can save as much as $90 in public spending expenditure on social supports. This study estimated that the BC government could save as much as $95 million annually if it implemented a program of universal access to prescription contraception.

Unfettered access to one’s contraception of choice:

  • Empowers people;

  • Promotes equity;

  • Promotes better overall health outcomes;

  • Encourages effective sex ed policy; and

  • Saves the system money.

We call on the Government of British Columbia and the Legislative Assembly to ensure that the 2020 budget includes provisions to make all forms of prescription contraception universally accessible and free for any citizen. We call on the government to ensure that all community clinics, hospitals, and identified health care sites are supported to carry a full complement of contraception, to ensure that choice is available based on the needs and personal preference of the individual seeking the contraception. 

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