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Senate Health and Welfare Committee Refuses to Advance Commonsense Legislation That Would Expand Access to Reproductive Health Care

 BOISE – Today, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii (PPVNH) expressed disappointment over the failure to pass SB 1281 out of committee, a piece of legislation that would dramatically reduce barriers to birth control access. The bill would ensure that all women in Idaho have consistent access to birth control by allowing them to receive 12 months at a time, meaning they would only have to return to the pharmacy once a year. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Cherie Buckner-Webb and Representative Melissa Wintrow and has garnered support from PPVNH, ACLU of Idaho, and ACOG.

The Idaho Senate Health and Welfare Committee agreed in a vote of 5-4 to send the bill back to the sponsor after committee members heard powerful testimony from local advocates.

“Planned Parenthood Votes is disappointed that our elected leaders can’t support this commonsense solution to remove birth control barriers in Idaho. At a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at women's health care access, we had a chance to help women and families across this state, but we failed,” said Mistie Tolman, Idaho Legislative Director at PPVNH. "Everyone deserves affordable and accessible birth control that works for us, regardless of income or insurance carrier."

 Forty-six percent of women who unintentionally became pregnant report that they were using some form of contraceptives; providing one year of birth control at a time will increase consistent use and reduce unintended pregnancy.

“We need to remove barriers to accessing birth control for women,” said Sen. Buckner-Webb. “Today, this bill was voted down and my Republican colleagues took this opportunity to take women backwards. This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on. Birth control is not controversial -- it’s health care that the majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime.”

 The bill is the first of its kind in Idaho and follows a growing trend across the country to ensure consistent access to reproductive health care. As of 2018, 11 states and the District of Columbia have adopted 12 months of birth control legislation.

 Consistent access to birth control gives women the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and education opportunities, healthier pregnancies, and making them less likely to depend on government programs. By requiring insurers to cover a full year’s supply of birth control, we can reduce barriers to contraceptives, help women plan their families and avoid unintended pregnancy, and save money for Idaho families.

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