AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER)-- Easier access to birth control is up for discussion Tuesday afternoon in Augusta. A new bill aims to increase the amount of birth control women can get at one time.
Right now, insurance allows for woman to get an initial one month supply of their prescribed birth control, followed by a three month supply for every refill after that. The bill's sponsor, Democratic Representative Joyce McCreight of Harpswell, wants women to be able to get a 12 month refill. McCreight believes women who are busy moms, going to school or working full-time, living in rural areas, or have limited access to transportation could have trouble getting to the pharmacy or doctor's office to pick up their prescribed birth control, and that could cause them to run the risk of missing a dose. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, a supporter of the proposal, says a woman who misses even one day of her daily birth control, like a pill, faces an increased risk of an unplanned pregnancy.
Similar proposals have been heard in other states with varied success. Opponents argue the bill could result in a waste of drugs if women change their prescription while in the middle of their 12 month supply. However, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says the proposal's language prepared for that.
"Women, when they're getting their first prescription can get three months, and then after the first three months, if they change their mind or they want a different method, they can then get 12 months of a supply," said Nicole Clegg, Vice President of Public Policy of Northern New England. "The cost of an unintended pregnancy for an insurance plan is significant, and far outweighs whatever might be a small cost for lost product."
The bill's supporters say more consistent access to birth control will help reduce the risk of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. A public hearing for the bill, LD1237, is set for 1pm Tuesday.