Concord, NH - Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to pass SB 421, legislation to Advance Contraceptive Coverage and Economic Security Statewide (or “ACCESS”), with strong bipartisan support by a margin of 219 to 111. This bill will protect and expand access to contraception for Granite State women.
SB 421 enhances New Hampshire’s Contraceptive Equity Law to reflect current coverage and best medical practices by allowing for a 12-month supply of prescribed, self-administered contraceptives at one dispensing interval, and incorporating current no-copay provision into state law. This proposal will improve women’s health and economic security, and help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in New Hampshire.
“We are thrilled with today’s result because SB 421 is now one step closer to becoming a law that makes a real, positive impact on the lives of Granite State women by expanding and protecting access to contraception,” said Kayla Montgomery, Director of Advocacy and Organizing for Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund. “This legislation is the result of efforts of dozens of health care advocacy groups and medical professionals, who understand that better access to contraception makes for healthier women and families in New Hampshire. We look forward to this bill becoming law.”
“I’m pleased that the House voted to pass ACCESS. This bill is a common sense, bipartisan solution that will improve Granite State women’s access to basic and preventative health care, reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, and increase education and economic opportunities for women - all of which are good for the state’s economy,” said Donna Soucy, prime sponsor of SB 421. “When this bill is signed into law, it means New Hampshire can significantly improve access to contraception and further reduce our rate of unintended pregnancy by protecting and expanding access to basic, preventative health care for women, regardless of their economic status.”
A broad coalition of health care providers, advocates, and organizations supported the passage of SB 421, including Planned Parenthood NH Action Fund, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) New Hampshire chapter, New Futures, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, the Equality Health Center, the Joan G Lovering Health Center, ACLU of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Public Health Association, New Hampshire Nurses Association, Bi-State Primary Care Association, National Association of Social Workers - New Hampshire Chapter, the YWCA of New Hampshire, Mom’s Rising, and dozens of New Hampshire medical professionals.
Background on ACCESS Campaign
A bipartisan, multi-stakeholder study commission composed of legislators, medical professionals, and public health experts developed the policies underlying SB 421, and unanimously endorsed this legislation. SB 421 updates New Hampshire’s long-standing “Contraceptive Equity Law” to protect New Hampshire women against the current attacks on contraception at the federal level and adds a coverage requirement for a 12 month supply of contraception at a single dispensing period. In addition:
Access to a multiple month supply is in line with the recommendations for Quality Family Planning Services issued by the CDC and the Office of Population Affairs, which recommended that providers should “provide or prescribe multiple cycles (ideally a full year’s supply) of oral contraceptive pills, the patch, or the ring” to reduce barriers to care and facilitate consistent use of contraception. According to studies, inconsistent use of contraception accounts for 41% of unintended pregnancies.
SB 421 recognizes that women use birth control for a variety of reasons — in fact, 58% of all women who use the pill rely on it, at least in part, for something other than pregnancy prevention, including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome (which is prevalent among women of color), fibroids, and menstrual regulation.
There is a real need for affordable birth control in the Granite State. In 2014, the Guttmacher Institute found that 65,530 women in New Hampshire were in need of publicly supported contraceptive services and supplies.
Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (PPNNE) is the largest provider of reproductive and sexual health care for women, men and teens across the State of New Hampshire. We serve New Hampshire residents through 6 health centers in Claremont, Derry, Exeter, Keene, Manchester and White River Junction, VT. Last year we saw more than 11,000 patients at these sites.
Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund (PPNHAF) is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.