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Campaign calls for free prescription contraception across B.C. (PHOTOS)

Frontline health care workers encourage the public to participate by sharing their support on social media

A campaign calling for free prescription contraception in B.C. has launched a new social media effort.

The AccessBC Campaign for free prescription contraception is calling on British Columbians to share photos of themselves with signs that explain why they support universal, no-cost prescription contraception, explains a news release. The campaign is gearing up a couple of weeks before World Contraception Day, on Sept. 26, 2021. 

After the photos are taken, participants are asked to share their snaps on their personal accounts using the @accessbc or the hasthtag #WCD2021. They may also send the photos to [email protected] for posting. From there, the social media team will amplify their messages and ensure elected officials are tagged.

Dr. Ruth Habte, an OBGYN Resident Physician and AccessBC Campaign Organizer, is seen geared up in scrubs with a sign that reads, “I am an OBGYN Resident and I support free prescription contraception because I believe in pregnancy and children by choice, not by chance.” 

The campaign states that frontline workers see first-hand how barriers to accessing contraception lead to unwanted pregnancies, particularly for young, low-income women. Further, a 2016 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found that "one in five Canadian women have had an unplanned pregnancy."

The cost associated with various prescription forms of birth control is steep. Right now, an intrauterine device (IUD) can cost $75 to $425, the contraceptive implant can cost $350, oral contraceptive pills can cost $15-35 per month, and hormone injections as much as $180 per year.

Campaign organizers note that the pandemic has made it harder for women to access prescription contraception, adding that "cost should never be the deciding factor in reproductive health."

A sign held by UBC Medical Student Marisa Levesquereads: “I am a medical student and I support free prescription contraception because I believe in equitable and inclusive healthcare for everyone." 

“Access to contraception is an issue of equity – barriers to access such as cost fall disproportionately on people with uteruses, and more significantly affect those who are socioeconomically disadvantaged,” said Levesque.  “Allowing all people to make choices about if and when they have children promotes gender equity in areas such as educational attainment and lifetime earnings.”

“I am a family physician and I support free prescription contraception because the power to choose should NOT depend on your income”, says a sign held by Dr. Sarah Malleson. 

In addition to preventing unplanned pregnancies, no-cost contraception also has "preventative health and wellness benefits, including treating things like heavy menstrual bleeding and pain, endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, uterine fibroids and even reducing the risks of some types of cancer."

The social media campaign will run until World Contraception Day on Sept. 26, 2021.