Every woman who takes The Pill knows the feeling—the panic of realizing you need to start your next pack now, but it’s 11 PM on a Sunday or you’re visiting friends halfway around the world. For the lucky women of Oregon, however, that feeling is poised to be nothing more than an urban legend thanks to a glorious new state law.
The Oregon State Senate unanimously passed a bill earlier this week allowing residents to receive a 12-month supply of their preferred form of birth control—be it oral pills, skin patches, or vaginal rings—at once. Once Oregon’s governor, Kate Brown, gives her final signature, women in Oregon can look forward to a life free from monthly trips to the pharmacy, frantic phone calls to their doctors for refills, and anxiety upon realizing that a next dose is needed immediately. Oregon will now be the only state in the country requiring insurance companies to give a year’s supply of birth control at once.
Dispensing a one-year supply of birth control has been shown to decrease the odds of unplanned pregnancy by 30 percent when compared with dispensing either 30- or 90-day supplies. Making birth control available in a year’s supply makes good economic sense, too: The reduction of even one unintended pregnancy saves an insurance company a minimum of $17,400—which is enough to pay for twenty-nine years of birth control.
A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) found that “the more pill packs given, up to 13 cycles, the higher the continuation rates. Restricting the number of pill packs distributed or prescribed can result in unwanted discontinuation of the method and increased risk for pregnancy.” Furthermore, the researchers found, the greater the number of pill packs provided, the fewer pregnancy tests, pregnancies, and overall pregnancy-related health care costs per individual.
Upon the bill’s passage in the state senate, State Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson, chair of Oregon’s Senate Health Care Committee, said, “Ninety-nine percent of women will use some form of birth control at some point in their lives. With House Bill 3343, Oregon will be the first state in the country to ensure that women have reliable and steady access to a full year of…contraceptives.”
In a statement, Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards commended Oregon’s legislature, saying, “We know that when women have access to birth control, they're more likely to finish college and be financially secure. This bill would help prevent unintended pregnancy, and it would help women pursue their goals and dreams."
Local lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are also moving forward with a similar bill.
Hopefully other states will get the memo and follow suit in taking this critical step in ensuring women’s reproductive rights and economic success.
Jen Gerson Uffalussy is a regular contributor to Fusion. She also writes about reproductive and sexual health/policy for Glamour, and television for The Guardian. She lives in Atlanta.