Proposed Kentucky Bill Would Increase Access to Birth Control for Rural Women | Northern Kentucky News | Cincinnati

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Birth control could become easier to obtain for Kentuckians if a new bill is passed.

Nearly 300,000 Kentucky women live in counties without health centers that provide contraceptive methods such as the birth control pill.

Eastern Kentucky advocates say the proposed legislation would increase access to the full variety of birth control methods in rural counties and help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.

Mimi Pickering, team leader for All Access EKY, a project to increase the availability of comprehensive reproductive health services in Appalachia, said the cost and need to frequently visit clinics or pharmacies to obtain and renewing prescriptions are major obstacles.

“And that can mean having to quit your job or having to find and pay for child care,” Pickering explained. “Or, for many, the location of transportation. So these are real barriers to long-term, consistent access to birth control.”

Rep. Josie Raymond, D-Louisville, Rep. Attica Scott, D-Louisville, Rep. Kelly Flood, D-Lexington, and Rep. Susan Westrom, D-Lexington, sponsored House Bill 300, which would require insurance coverage of all FDA-approved, non-copay, non-prescription birth control methods. Under the law, insurance companies would also have to cover a 12-month supply of contraceptives at one time.

Pickering pointed out that when contraceptives are widely available and easier to acquire, pregnancy rates go down.

“It should be the goal of all Kentuckians, including members of the General Assembly, to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies in Kentucky,” Pickering said. “And the best way to do that is to increase access and affordability of birth control for everyone who wants to use it.”

A study by researchers at the University of Washington found that providing free contraceptives to women significantly reduces unplanned pregnancies and cuts abortion rates by 62% to 78%.

Tamara Weider, state director of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates, said another bill known as House Bill 3 would add onerous requirements for abortion providers and patients.

“It will require patients to make an in-person visit, thereby prohibiting safe abortion via telemedicine,” Weider noted. “So these restrictions that are in House Bill 3 run counter to current medical and scientific guidance.”

The bill is currently being reviewed by the Veterans Affairs, Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee.

This story was originally published by Public News Service and is republished here with permission.

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