It’s time for universal no-cost prescription contraception
Letter to the Editor
Prescription contraception is expensive. An intrauterine device (IUD) can cost between $75 and $380, pills as much as $20 per month, and hormone injections $180 per year. These costs make contraception difficult or even impossible to access, particularly young people and those with low incomes.
I have often heard about the challenges that people from all walks of life face when trying to access contraception in B.C. Students deciding between paying their rent or paying for their prescription. Young people facing a loss of privacy and potentially safety if they use their parents’ health plans for contraception. Or people in abusive relationships who are discretely trying to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy.
When cost is a barrier, people turn to less reliable methods, with predictable, life-changing, and expensive results. Unplanned pregnancies can derail life plans, are at higher risks for negative health impacts for the mother and infant, and come with high personal and societal costs.
A program for universal no-cost prescription contraception is not only good for individuals; it would actually save the government money. A 2010 Options for Sexual Health study estimated that such a program would save the Province more than $90 million annually because the cost of providing prescription contraception is considerably lower than the costs associated with unintended pregnancy.
Such programs also increase equality. While free condoms are readily available, the high costs of prescription contraception fall disproportionately on women and people with uteruses, as do the costs of unplanned pregnancy.
It’s time for B.C. to tear down barriers to contraception. I encourage people to write a letter to their MLA and ask them to support universal no-cost prescription contraception.
Dr. Teale Phelps Bondaroff,
Chair and Co-Founder of the AccessBC Campaign for Free Prescription Contraception in B.C.,