Politics Blog

Petition: Allow women to get year’s supply of birth control

Following Oregon’s recent passage of a law allowing women to get a year’s worth of birth control at a time, an online petition has collected nearly 30,000 signatures from people who want similar legislation in their states.

The Care2 petition was started June 12, a day after Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law. It was authored by Julie Mastrine, who happens to be the petition networking site’s media manager.

“I was really excited when I saw that Oregon passed a law allowing women to get a year’s supply,” Mastrine said. “It’s one of the most widely-studied drugs, probably more than aspirin. I truly believe it is monumentally important to get access to this.”

The petition, which can be found at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/370/976/173/ triggers an automatic email to the petition signer’s state Senator, asking them to introduce or support similar legislation.

Oregon’s first-in-the nation law requires insurance providers to allow women to get a year’s supply, provided they have already filled that same prescription for the first three-month supply.

“I think we can trust women with their own reproductive healthcare, and there’s no need for arbitrary, paternalistic rules that make women jump through a hoop to get a pack of pills,” Mastrine said. “For women who don’t have flexible work schedules or can’t get to the pharmacy, this type of legislation is an important first step.”

Some of the thousands of signatures on the petition are from participants around the world, but the petition is only designed to trigger emails to state Senators for the 49 states aside from Oregon, Mastrine said.

“Those (international signatures) are pretty much symbolic signatures,” Mastrine said. “Most of the signatures are from U.S. constituents.”

The petition doesn’t trigger emails to local legislators who work at the state level. Contact information for Washington state’s lawmakers can be found at app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/.

Western Washington University student Katrina Haffner said she signed the Care2 petition because she believes it is important for all states to pass similar legislation.

“I know many women even in Bellingham who have trouble accessing birth control because of a lack of good transportation and a chance to get it,” Haffner said. “It’s not too bad (in Bellingham), people can easily get around by bus, but it’s still time-consuming. For other parts of the United States, more rural places with public transportation that’s not very good, many of these women struggle to get to the pharmacy which provides their birth control.”

Haffner, 23, said she also wanted to bring attention to another bill making its way through the Oregon legislature at the moment, House Bill 2879, which would allow for pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control patches or pills.

“Oregon is just really blazing the frontier for birth control I think with those two bills,” she said.

The Oregonian’s Dennis Theriault wrote an informative piece on the “on-demand” birth control bill on May 20, which you can read here. Theriault notes that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists first recommended allowing over-the-counter access to oral contraception in 2012, and reaffirmed that opinion in 2014.

According to the Washington State Department of Health, 49 percent of Washington state pregnancies were unintended in 2010, the most recent year for which the numbers are available.

“The cost of Medicaid-financed prenatal care and deliveries for births from unintended pregnancies in 2010 was $220 million in Washington,” according to a department document. “In contrast, the annual cost for contraceptive care to prevent these pregnancies would have been about $7 million, about $335 per person.”

Reach Samantha Wohlfeil at 360-715-2274 or samantha.wohlfeil@bellinghamherald.com.