Olympia – Today, reproductive health and rights advocacy groups in Washington celebrated House floor passage of HB 2465 on a 91-6 vote, heavy bipartisan support for legislation that would dramatically reduce barriers to birth control access. The bill would ensure that all women in Washington have consistent access to birth control by allowing them to receive 12 months at a time, meaning they would have to refill their prescription only once a year. Companion legislation in the Senate did not receive a hearing before cutoff, but with House passage the Senate has a new opportunity to take up the idea and move HB 2465 forward.
“Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii applauds the House of Representatives for moving forward on increasing access to birth control for Washington women. Now the Senate should do the same,” said Jennifer Allen, Director of Public Policy at Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii. “We hope the Senate will see what we see: that everyone deserves affordable and accessible birth control that works for us, regardless of income or type of insurance.”
Editorial Boards for several major newspapers across Washington have endorsed “12 months of birth control,” arguing that it’s a commonsense policy all legislators should get behind. Newspapers taking up the fight include the Seattle Times, Spokesman-Review,News Tribune, and most recently, the Columbian. The Times called it a “sensible and important bill to broaden women’s health services to help with prevention.”
“The House vote recognizes that many women—especially low-income women, rural women, and women of color—face barriers that make it difficult for them to get to a pharmacy each month,” said Janet Chung, Legal & Legislative Counsel for Legal Voice. “This bill is good for women, good for families, and good for Washington State, which will benefit from a reduced rate of unplanned pregnancies. We urge the Senate to follow suit.”
Currently, women with Medicaid insurance in Washington already are able to receive up to a 12 months of birth control at once, but HB 2465 would ensure women who purchase private insurance have the same access. Washington would be the second state in the country to pass a law guaranteeing this access after Oregon.
“Barriers to birth control access, like the requirement that a woman travel to the drug store every single month to obtain pills that must be taken every day to be effective, patronize women and put them at risk of unplanned pregnancy,” said Rachel Berkson, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington. “This is particularly true for women in rural areas or whose work hours make it difficult to get to the drugstore when it’s open. This legislation is a necessary and important step toward access to birth control for all who want it.”
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. Today, most women have to refill their birth control every month, which is a burden for many and leads to inconsistent use, and accounts for 43% of all unintended pregnancies.
“This bill would remove an unnecessary barrier to accessing contraceptives. It’s an important step to ensuring that every women, regardless of income, has access to effective and affordable birth control,” said Leah Rutman, Policy Counsel at ACLU of Washington.
“We encourage our legislators to champion women’s health care with the passage of HB 2465. Access to 12 month’s birth control is vital. Birth control goes beyond health care – it gives women self-determination and the power to control their future,” said Connie Cantrell, Executive Director of Cedar River Clinics.
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