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In Rare Bipartisan Vote, Proactive Birth Control Bill Passes Virginia Senate & House for First Time in more than a Decade
Richmond, VA –Reproductive rights advocates celebrated a rare victory this afternoon after the Virginia State Senate voted 34 to 6 to pass HB 2267, which guarantees a woman access to a full 12-month supply of contraception at one time, when prescribed by a licensed health care provider. The proactive reproductive health and freedom measure is the first to pass the General Assembly in more than a decade.
HB 2267, introduced by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-41), first survived challenges from the House of Delegates, including rigorous questioning in committee and an amendment attempt by Del. Bob Marshall (R-13) which would have fundamentally corrupted the bill.
"This is a sweet victory for Virginia women,” said Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. "Del. Filler-Corn worked so hard to pass this bill, and it’s a rare and much welcomed occasion to see bipartisan consensus on a reproductive health issue. Expanding access to birth control options is not only great for Virginia women; it’s just commonsense. We hope we can continue working across party lines to increase reproductive health options for Virginia women in the future.”
Activists and medical professionals turned out in large numbers to support the bill. "When the option of receiving a 12 month supply is available, it is less likely that women will have lapses in medication use or abandon use altogether," said Dr. Nicole Rankins, an obstetrician/gynecologist from Henrico who testified in support of HB 2267. "To be clear, this is not a mandate that women must get 12 months at a time. It just makes the option available when qualified medical professionals decide it is appropriate."
Dr. Wendy Klein, an internist and practicing clinician, echoed that sentiment. "As a physician, I need to treat and respond to the unique health care needs of each of my patients. This includes being empowered to prescribe the number of monthly pill packs that will best serve the purpose and circumstance at hand.The passage of HB 2267 gives healthcare providers the freedom to make individualized patient care decisions."
Gaining access to a full year’s supply of birth control pills at once particularly helps rural and young women, and those juggling multiple work and family commitments who find it difficult, if not impossible, to make it to the pharmacy each month. Receiving a year’s supply of contraception in one visit to the pharmacy helps women decrease unintended pregnancies and abortions. A recent study shows that access to a yearlong supply of birth control reduces unintended pregnancy by 30% and abortion by 46%, and aligns Virginia law with the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Five states and D.C.already guarantee that insurers must provide women with 12 months of birth control pills at once.Keene cautioned that the work is far from over. "This vote is a step in the right direction for Virginia women, families, and communities,” she said. "But on Tuesday, the Senate also voted to defund Planned Parenthood and similar health care centers. Earlier this session, the House rejected bills to repeal the targeted regulation of abortion providers and to remove medically unnecessary, humiliating abortion consent procedures. Virginia women have a long road ahead before we achieve full reproductive freedom. So today, we celebrate, but tomorrow we are back to work."