A B.C. resident physician is asking for Courtenay council’s support to urge the BC Government to make the provision of no-cost prescription contraception in the budget as expansive as possible.
At the July 19 council meeting, Ruth Habte, a Vancouver-based doctor in obstetrics and gynecology and a former pharmacist represented AccessBC, an organization that proposes the province adopt a policy where no-cost prescription contraception is universally available to all residents.
“If you think about contraception – based on experience in my practice – the access to (it) is a basic human right,” she noted. “There’s still a lot of barriers to people gaining access to prescription contraception … costs are one of them.”
Habte explained an intrauterine device costs about $400 (and lasts up to five years) and pills or injections are around $30/month.
She added another barrier for people is being in rural locations, but noted cost is the biggest barrier.
“(We’ve got a) hodgepodge of different systems. We have Pharmacare but usually, people who are in the working poor … if they don’t have any other health conditions they won’t reach the deductible – a lot of single mothers fall into the category.”
She suggested telehealth can be done to ensure women have access to prescriptions and pharmacies can fill them.
“We know that systems like this save money. In 2015, a study in the Canadian Association Medical Journal estimated the cost of delivering universal contraception in Canada at $157 million, but the savings, in the form of direct medical costs of unintended pregnancy, have been estimated at $320 million.”
In a health care system where prescription contraception isn’t covered, Habte said people getting pregnant and have miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies are covered by the province’s Medical Services Plan, and added the province is doing a disservice by not allowing women and people with uteruses to experience and reach their reproductive health goals.
“This is a policy that empowers people and promotes equality and health outcomes and saves our government money.”
AccessBC’s campaign has been directly endorsed by 18 municipalities across B.C. including Vancouver and Victoria, and two resolutions were passed at the September 2020 Union of British Columbia Municipalities convention.