Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition Denounces Anti-Women Members of House Subcommittee for Defeating Common Sense Birth Control Bills

Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition Denounces Anti-Women Members of House Subcommittee for Defeating Common Sense Birth Control Bills

Richmond, Virginia—On Thursday afternoon,House Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #1 defeated Delegate Filler-Corn’s Reproductive Health Equity Act, HB1481, a common sense bill that would have made it easier for women to access and afford the cost of birth control. The Virginia Women’s Equality Coalition is disappointed that the subcommittee failed to pass this bill and provide protections for women who are making responsible choices about their reproductive health.

Women should be able to decide how and when to have a family, and having access to affordable birth control options is a crucial part of making that a reality. Virginians have reaped both economic and health benefits from the no co-pay comprehensive coverage of contraceptives as part of the mandated coverage of women’s essential health services coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Reproductive Health Equity Act would enshrine the no co-pay contraceptive drug, device, and procedure coverage requirements from the Affordable Care Act into Virginia law, safeguarding these essential benefits for all Virginians.

“Today’s vote is a slap in the face to more than 1.6 million Virginia women who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate,” Jennifer Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, said. “Every woman deserves affordable access to birth control, and we will pursue every avenue to make that a reality.”

“Not only is no co-pay contraceptive coverage enormously popular, but women will suffer if they are robbed of the full range of preventative reproductive healthcare, including access to free basic preventative healthcare services like mammograms, cervical cancer screenings, and domestic violence counseling,” Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, said. “The Reproductive Health Equity Act would have safeguarded the coverage that already exists for these lifesaving services, and that’s what our elected officials voted against when they killed the bill today.”

“For Latinas in Virginia, birth control access is an issue of reproductive justice. Latinas experience higher incidences of unintended pregnancy, are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to be able to afford healthcare out-of-pocket, as well as are more likely to be enrolled in public insurance,” Margie del Castillo, Director of Field and Advocacy with the NLIRH Virginia Latina Advocacy Network. “The ability to access affordable birth control no matter where she lives, works or how much money she makes is vitally important to the overall wellbeing of our communities.  Which is why we are disappointed by today’s vote to dismiss HB1481. This proactive measure would have helped Latinas plan their families and futures as well as improve their health and wellbeing. We will continue to fight until we win on this important issue, for all Latinas and their families in the Commonwealth.”

The Brookings Institute estimates that unplanned pregnancies cost taxpayers an average of $11 billion per year.  Some of the most cost-efficient contraceptive methods like IUD’s, implants, and sterilization come with steep up-front costs. Without no co-pay contraceptive coverage, these methods would be beyond the reach of many women. A 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation survey found that over 77% of women and 64% of men support laws requiring health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control. A 2017 poll showed that over 77% of women don’t want these benefits to stop. The Women’s Equality Coalition, a statewide coalition made up of 14 member organizations dedicated to ensuring that all Virginia women are able to fully participate in social, economic, and political life.