Vancouver Is Trying to Make Birth Control Free (Just Like Condoms and Vasectomies)

“Right now, contraception for people with penises is covered. And for people with uteruses, it isn’t.”
birth control pills

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Since vasectomies and condoms can be covered by insurance in British Columbia, Vancouver thinks it’s only fair the government also pays for birth control prescriptions.

The city council unanimously backed a proposal to urge British Columbia to cover prescription contraception under the provincial government’s medical plan. The measure was first proposed by Vancouver city council member Christine Boyle, who now hopes that the British Columbia government will agree to the idea before the next budget plan.


“Right now, contraception for people with penises is covered. And for people with uteruses, it isn’t. It’s kind of a historic inequity,” Boyle told a local Vancouver news outlet. “This needs to be corrected in terms of what’s covered in particular, so that people with lower incomes have equal access and truly have a choice in terms of their reproductive decisions.”

An IUD costs between $75 and $380, while “the pill” runs about $20 per month, according to Access BC, a group of activists who have waged a yearslong campaign for universal coverage for prescription contraception. Hormone injections cost up to $180 per year.

Implementing this kind of universal coverage would cost British Columbia about $52 million annually, but would save at least $95 million in terms of public expenditures for health, social, and income support programs, according to a 2010 study from the B.C. charity Options for Sexual Health.

Several other countries around the world, including the United Kingdom, France, China, Russia, and India, have all made the pill completely free, Vox reported in 2014. (The United States has not.)

But when the 2020 budget was released just a few weeks ago, it didn’t include universal coverage for prescription contraception.

Still, Boyle says that other municipalities are considering supporting motions like Vancouver’s. Victoria, another major city in British Columbia, has already thrown its support behind a similar measure.

Cover: FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2016, file photo, a one-month dosage of hormonal birth control pills is displayed in Sacramento, Calif. Millions of American women are receiving birth control at no cost to them through workplace health plans, the result of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, which expanded access to contraception. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)