Media Advisory - September 26, 2023
AccessBC Campaign Celebrates First World Contraception Day with Free Prescription Contraception in BC!
On September 26th, 2023, the AccessBC Campaign celebrates the first World Contraception Day with free prescription contraception in British Columbia.
The AccessBC Campaign has been advocating for free prescription contraception in BC since 2017, and in April 2023, the provincial government rolled out free prescription contraception for British Columbia residents. The 2023 provincial budget has dedicated $119 million over three years for a program that will fully cover prescription contraception options, including most oral pills, injections, copper and hormonal intrauterine devices (IUDs), implants, and Plan B (also known as the morning after pill).
Cost is a significant barrier to people accessing prescription contraception. An IUD can cost up to $500, oral contraceptive pills cost at least $240 per year, an implant can cost $350, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year. These costs fall disproportionately on women and people who can get pregnant.
“Today, we are celebrating BC’s leadership on reproductive justice,” said Teale Phelps Bondaroff, AccessBC Campaign Chair and Co-founder. “This year, BC became the first province in Canada to make prescription contraception universally available at no cost, and the policy has already helped transform lives and improve the health and well-being of British Columbians.”
“There is a growing movement for reproductive justice across the country, and there is certainly more work to be done both here in BC and across Canada,” said Phelps Bondaroff. “We are proud to support the work of sister campaigns in Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and are particularly excited that today, a new campaign was officially launched in Nova Scotia.”
While the AccessBC Campaign will continue to push for the expansion of the current program here in BC, which does not cover all types of prescription contraception, on this World Contraception Day, the campaign is celebrating. Here are some comments from campaign volunteers:
“As a youth clinic doctor, no-cost contraception has meant real autonomy and self-determination, empowering young people to pick a birth control option that best aligns with their own body, life stage and state of mind, rather than their budget,” said Dr. Sarah Malleson, VCH Youth Clinic Physician and AccessBC Campaign volunteer.
“The day that BC made contraception free, I got messages from people all over the province. Medical practitioners were excited about what this would mean for their patients, and friends were excited that they could finally afford an IUD. The decision of when or if to have a child is such an important decision, and no one should be pushed into a choice they don't want because of cost. Making contraception free for everyone is a commitment to reproductive rights, to sexual health and wellbeing, and to gender equality,” said Devon Black, AccessBC Campaign Co-Founder.
“When contraception is available at no-cost, people are better able to decide what option works best for them. This policy continues to improve the lives of people with a uterus through cost-savings and empowering them to exert their reproductive rights. While we have come so far in British Columbia, I am looking forward to a day where the policy is even more inclusive of all options available,” said Dr. Ruth Habte. AccessBC Campaign Organizer and Obstetrics and Gynaecology Resident Physician.
“As someone who has recently moved to British Columbia from Manitoba, it's comforting to know that I can access free contraception as needed and I am proud to live somewhere where that is an option for folks. Free contraception means we are one step closer to gender equality, but we can't stop here. There is much work to be done across this country to make free contraception a reality for all,” said Kennadie Chaudhary, AccessBC Campaign Coordinator.
“Every day, I help British Columbians navigate community, government, and social services during the most severe housing and affordability crisis BC has ever seen. I no longer have to worry about cost being a barrier for folks to utilize their full reproductive rights. An unwanted pregnancy can create immeasurable and unseen economic, and social costs. Especially during our current affordability crisis, the personal impact of an individual not being able to exercise their full reproductive human rights could be catastrophic. It still brings up emotion in me, knowing that future generations will not know the weight of deciding between rent and prescription contraception in BC. Now, in BC, it's World Contraception Day everyday” said Jessica L. Jimmo, AccessBC Municipal Outreach Coordinator.