Pushing Forward: Expanding Michigan Women’s Access to Contraceptives

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Pushing Forward: Expanding Michigan Women’s Access to Contraceptives

This is a guest column written by University of Michigan Student, Jaime Davidson.

In July, House and Senate Democrats announced a sweeping package of legislation they say could reduce the state’s unintended pregnancy rate and save tax dollars by expanding women’s access to contraceptives. The package spearheaded by Progressive Women’s Legislative Caucus members, Representative, Winnie Brinks, Representative Gretchen Driskell, and Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. would take a five pronged approach to change the way employers and the state currently deal with contraceptives.

The legislation includes language that would require employers to inform employees and job applicants of contraceptive coverage, as well as prohibit them from discriminating against women on the basis of contraceptive use. Under the legislation, the state would also be required to distribute information about emergency contraception and they would be compelled to take steps to lower the teen pregnancy rate. Health facilities would be required to make emergency contraceptives available to women if they are being treated after a sexual assault. “The Legislature plays games with women’s health, hiding behind political ideology and claims of protecting women,” Hertel said at the press conference where the legislation was unveiled. “Providing adequate reproductive health care protections and resources enables women and men to plan their families and improves the economic stability of our state.”

Brinks added that the legislation would, “make it easier for women to access the contraceptives they need, would prohibit the discrimination against women on the basis of contraceptive use and would call on the state to take steps to reduce Michigan’s high rate of teen pregnancies.”

MILEAD Blog Post, Graphic

The introduction of this legislation this summer was a great step for our state, where women and increasingly losing control over their own bodies. When women don’t have easy, affordable access to contraception they may not be able to protect themselves from STIs, HIV, cervical cancer, or unwanted pregnancies, thereby putting her health and safety at risk.

A 2014 Guttmacher study found that protecting women’s safety by providing contraception resulted in a net government savings of $13.6 billion in 2010, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent. The same study also found that, “In 2010, care provided during publicly supported family planning visits averted an estimated 2.2 million unintended pregnancies.” It goes on to say, “Publicly funded contraceptive services also helped women avoid 360,000 miscarriages and 760,000 abortions in 2010.” Not only is affordable and accessible birth control effective, but it is economically beneficial and puts women in control of their fertility, allowing them to decide whether, and when, to bear children.

To learn more, check out the campaign #birthcontrolhelpedme on our social channels: Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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