Bill would give women year long access to contraceptive pills

Legtislation breaks barriers to improve women's sexual and reproductive health

By Vidushi Saxena, The Badger Herald


A bill promoting women’s welfare and preventing unwanted pregnancy by allowing them to fill a 12-month prescription for contraceptive pills was introduced Wednesday.

Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point, and Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee, are the lead authors of the 12-Month Contraceptive Care Act. Under the bill, any woman who received an initial three-month birth control supply from her insurance providers can get a 12-month supply filled. The bill targets all insurance providers in Wisconsin.
“Essentially, it expands access to contraceptive for women,” Shankland said.
Research has shown that dispensing a 12-month supply of birth control at one time reduces the odds of unintended pregnancy by 30 percent and reduces abortion rates by 36 percent, Shankland said. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization also recommend year long prescriptions of birth control, Shankland said.
Jenny Higgins, UW gender and women’s studies professor, said there are no medical or clinical risks associated with receiving a 12-month supply of birth control. There is a greater health risk associated with running out of birth control than having too much of it, Higgins said.
“The health risks of unintended pregnancy are much worse than the health risks of potentially dangerous or life-threatening side effects of contraceptives,” Higgins said.
Having a 12-month supply of contraceptives can help all sexually active women, especially college women, as it prevents them from forgetting to refill their prescription and risking unintended pregnancies, Higgins said.
Shankland said 12-month contraceptive prescriptions help women better plan and time their pregnancies. It also helps women who do not have easy access to pharmacies or are simply unable to get regular refills because of work or child care, Higgins said.
“Any barriers that we can remove to making contraceptive coverage easy for women is a good thing,” Higgins said. “Even women with easy access, and college women, think ‘Oh gosh, I better get my script filled’ and several days go by before they do.”
Nicole Safar, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin government relations director, praised the legislation in a statement and said consistency is essential for birth control to be effective.
Shankland said she hopes the bill will give women more control over their destiny and economic freedom. Higgins said the next natural step to improving women’s sexual and reproductive health would be to increase access to other contraception such as IUDs, patches, rings and implants.
The bill is currently being circulated for co-sponsorship.