News Contraception

Californians Can Soon Pick Up 12 Months of Birth Control

Nicole Knight

Women who received a year’s supply of birth control were about a third less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, compared to those with a one- or three-month supply, according to a 2011 study.

Californians, beginning in January, will be able to get a year’s supply of contraception in a single trip to the pharmacist.

Gov. Jerry Brown (D) last week signed a law that requires health plans to cover up to 12 months of hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, rings, and patches.

Oregon and Hawaii recently enacted similar measures, removing the insurance barriers and logistical hurdles that sometimes lead to missed pills and unintended pregnancies. Publicly funded health-care programs in California already cover a year’s supply of birth control. But that mandate didn’t extend to private insurance, until now.

Speaking at a press conference in Los Angeles on Thursday, the author of the California bill, state Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Agoura Hills), said the idea for SB 999 came from more than 200 emails and letters “from women … describing some of the obstacles and challenges they had just finding time in their busy lives to go to the pharmacy.”

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Insurance plan restrictions prevent 73 percent of U.S. women from receiving more than a single month’s worth of birth control, as a 2015 committee opinion from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists noted.

Women who received a year’s supply of birth control were about a third less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy, compared to those with a one- or three-month supply, according to a 2011 study of 84,401 California women in Obstetrics and Gynecology. They were also 46 percent less likely to have an abortion.

The bill drew near unanimous support in the state’s Democratic-led legislature.

“There’s no such thing economic security without reproductive freedom, and because of SB 999, more women in California will have that security,” said Rebecca Griffin, assistant director of California programs with NARAL Pro-Choice California, one of the bill’s sponsors.

The legislation’s sponsors included the California Family Health Council and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. The measure attracted support from dozens of medical and advocacy groups, including the California Medical Association and California Academy of Family Physicians.

Brown last week also signed a bill, AB 1954, that permits Californians to see a reproductive health provider, such as an OB-GYN, without a referral from their primary care doctor.

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