SC representatives introduce 12-month birth control coverage legislation

Updated: Feb. 21, 2017 at 7:28 PM EST
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A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill that would require insurance plans cover a 12-month supply of prescribed self-administered contraceptives - such as the ring, the patch and oral contraceptives - at one time.

Most women have to refill their birth control prescriptions each month.

According to legislators, one in four women says they have missed birth control pills because they could not get the next pack in time, thereby increasing their risk of unintended pregnancy.

HB 3809 is sponsored by Rep. Kirkman Finlay and Rep. Beth Bernstein. They are joined by Representatives Kit Spires, Neal Collins, James Smith and Dr. Robert Ridgeway.

The legislation is similar to measures passed in Oregon, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Vermont, Washington, DC, and Virginia.

Dispensing one year's supply of birth control would help women in rural areas, lack transportation, move frequently, or struggle to balance hectic schedules, the legislators believe.

"For women not planning a pregnancy, having a consistent and readily accessible supply of birth control is essential," said Ann Warner, CEO of the Women's Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN).  "By providing for long-term uninterrupted access to contraception, the legislation would remove a significant barrier to women's consistent use of birth control and improve health and economic outcomes for both women and children."

"This legislation is one of those rare times in the General Assembly where we can create better outcomes, save money and create opportunity all at once," Bernstein said. "By increasing access to birth control, this bill has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancy, contribute to healthier pregnancies and allow women to pursue their goals."

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