Advocates say that young people will benefit from MSP coverage of contraceptives

Vancouver City Council's motion aims to remove barriers to reliable birth control

Some forms of birth control are difficult to access for students and young people due to their high cost. Safoura Rigi-Ladiz Photo
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By Safoura Rigi-Ladiz

The recent motion put forward by Vancouver City Council to have prescription contraceptives covered through MSP could impact young people and students by removing emotional and financial barriers.

Mairi Mallett, a nurse practitioner at Langara, said if contraceptives were covered through MSP, it would create fewer barriers for young people to have access to healthcare.

“Young people sometimes find it difficult to access health services. They may not feel comfortable going to their family doctor, so having birth control covered would give people more options,” Mallett said. “If they could go to any healthcare provider they feel comfortable with, it would create less barriers for accessing services.”

Marina Adshade, a UBC professor specializing in economics of sex, gender and fertility, said she has been lobbying the provincial government to cover contraceptives for years.

Adshade said the most effective types of contraceptives, such as IUDs, have high upfront costs and can be quite expensive for students.

“The most important change that could happen here is people switching from less reliable, intermittent contraceptives to more longer acting, more expensive contraceptives that are more reliable,” Adshade said.

Teale Phelps Bondaroff is the chair and co-founder of AccessBC, a campaign that advocates for contraceptive coverage in B.C.

Phelps Bondaroff said the issue of equality is central to fair coverage.

“Just because someone has a uterus, they incur more costs in order to exercise choices over their body,” Phelps Bondaroff said. “That’s a matter of equality.”

Coun. Christine Boyle, who pushed for the motion alongside councillor Jean Swanson, said contraceptive coverage would give people choice over their own bodies, regardless of age or income.

“It’s a fundamental piece of reproductive choice that you should really have choice regardless of income or other barriers,” she said.

Boyle said students who are vocal about their support for contraceptive coverage can really make a difference.

“Joining advocacy campaigns like Access BC and Options for Sexual Health, in helping amplify the ask, is really important,” she said. “Students can get involved in that way and tell their provincial MLA is why this would make a real difference for them in their life.”

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