No-cost birth control was not included in the 2020 provincial budget despite a campaign by AccessBC, a Saanich-based advocacy group.
The AccessBC team was disappointed to see that provisions for provincially funded prescription contraception were not included in the 2020 B.C. budget released on Tuesday.
— Access Birth Control (@AccessBC) February 19, 2020
AccessBC began a letter-writing campaign on World Contraception Day in September 2019. Since then, the bid for no-cost birth control has been endorsed by the City of Victoria, several university student societies, the Abortion Rights Coalition of Canada, multiple unions, the Canadian Federation of Medical Students and many others.
Devon Black, co-founder of AccessBC, sees this as a “missed opportunity” for B.C. In a statement, she explained that providing free contraception would not only be beneficial in terms of public health but would save the province money.
In a study conducted by Options for Sexual Health in 2010, it was estimated that providing universal no-cost birth control to B.C. residents would cost about $50 million but would save up to $95 million annually as costs for supporting unplanned pregnancies would be reduced.
Ruth Habte, an obstetrics and gynecology resident physician at the University of British Columbia and AccessBC committee member, explained that the costs related to unintended pregnancies fall on the health care system and on the patients.
Habte also emphasized that many forms of contraception – such as hormonal intrauterine devices which can cost almost $400 – are costly, making them inaccessible to low-income patients.
Despite the disappointment felt on Tuesday, the AccessBC team says they will continue to call on the B.C. government to make all forms of contraception universally accessible for residents at no cost.
AccessBC co-founder Teale Phelps Bondaroff emphasized that B.C. residents have made it clear that a no-cost contraception policy is important not only because of the high costs but because it’s been recognized as an issue of equality.
“Contraception costs are so much higher for people with uteruses,” he said.
AccessBC is also asking that the province ensure a full range of contraceptives are available in every community in B.C. so that residents can choose based on what suits them not based on what’s available.
“This is a fight we can’t afford to abandon,” Black said.