People use birth control for many reasons, including to avoid an unintended pregnancy. Birth control is essential healthcare for millions of Americans. Making all forms of birth control accessible and affordable for all in Washington is the most effective way to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies.
Unfortunately, anti-choice extremists have worked to restrict access to contraception. In 2019, Washington was forced out of Title X, the federal funding program that provides comprehensive family planning. The Trump administration put a gag rule on doctors, preventing recipients of Title X from referring patients for abortions and requiring ‘physicial separation’ between centres providing abortions and contraception. President Biden repealed these rules in the first month of his presidency, but patients’ rights must be protected no matter who is in the White House. Religious pharmacists in our state sued for the right to refuse to fill prescriptions for emergency contraception. Although the pharmacists’ effort was unsuccessful, we remain vigilant for future legal assaults on pregnant people’s right to access contraception.
In 2017, Washington State legislators took an important step toward making birth control accessible to all by passing a law that requires insurance companies to provide 12 months of birth-control pills at a time. In 2019, Washington state legislature also passed a bill to prohibit healthcare discrimination on the basis of immigration status or gender identity. Transgender people and undocumented immigrants face barriers to care healthcare access. Undocumented immigrants are barred from the federal Take Charge program and transgender people were excluded from reproductive services covered by Medicaid and private insurance. The bill created a state-funded program to cover undocumented Washingtonians’ family planning services and banned discrimination on the basis of gender identity. There is still work to do and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington will continue to fight to ensure patients in our state are able to access affordable contraception regardless of where they live or how much money they make.