Press "Enter" to skip to content

Opinion: Missourians Deserve Increased Access to Contraception

Two of us are Republicans and two of us are Democrats. Two of us are “pro-life” and two of us are “pro-choice.” We are all women and we are all lawmakers, representing Missourians who elected us to improve their lives through policy change. At a time when headlines about our legislative process seem almost exclusively about its dysfunction and divides, we’ve come together as a group of bipartisan legislators to find common ground and put prevention over politics.

We might disagree on abortion, but we wholeheartedly agree on contraception – and the need to increase access to it. That is why each of us has sponsored identical legislation, in both chambers, to allow women with private health insurance an option to obtain a yearlong supply of their birth control at one time, if desired (SBs 821, 1317; HBs 1874, 2190). Currently, private insurance plans in Missouri only allow 30- to 90-day supplies of contraception at once. This measure would put Missouri in alignment with medical best practice, half of states, and our public health insurance policy in Missouri, while giving women another tool to avoid unintended pregnancy.

Just like here in Missouri, in most states where this became law, there were bipartisan sponsors. In almost all states, there was bipartisan support to propel the measure to enactment. Last year, Texas and Montana joined the list. In Texas, Republican Senator Angela Paxton, wife to high profile anti-abortion Attorney General Ken Paxton, led the charge. In Montana, it was Democrat Representative Alice Buckley who championed and passed this bill in its first session, showing just how obvious its benefits are. Regardless of ideology on all issues, they all agreed on this one.

We also know this is what constituents want. Consistent with the conversations we’ve had in our districts and across the state, a 2023 poll found 74 percent of Missouri residents across the political spectrum believe people should be able to get a yearlong supply of birth control, if they want it.

Many women struggle to maintain consistent contraceptive use when they are forced to return to the pharmacy every month or couple of months. Women already experience many barriers accessing birth control, especially those living in rural Missouri and those balancing hectic work, life, and parenting schedules. Providing an annual supply of birth control at one time removes some of these logistical hurdles, including scheduling, transportation, time, and stress of repeated trips to the pharmacy.

Missouri has a higher percentage of unintended pregnancies than the national average, but this policy could help change that. Research has shown that women who receive a one-year supply

of birth control are 30 percent less likely to have an unintended pregnancy compared to women receiving a one to three-month supply. This same study found that giving women a one-year supply of birth control reduced the likelihood of abortion by 46 percent.

It is crucial we give Missouri moms every possible tool in order to have healthy babies when they are best prepared to care for them. Moms who are able to plan for their pregnancies are more likely to receive early prenatal care, have healthier pregnancies, and reduce their risk of having a baby with a low birthweight, the leading cause of NICU stays. Preventing unintended pregnancy also allows women to stay in the workforce, providing better economic opportunities for them and their families.

Last year, we came together to ensure Missouri extended postpartum care to better address our maternal mortality crisis. Those with longer memories may also recall that it was a bipartisan coalition of women Senators who ultimately ended the federal reimbursement allowance (FRA) fiasco of 2021, putting state business back on track. In a similar vein, we hope us coming together and working across the aisle yet again not only gets things done, but also provides a positive example for young Missourians.

After all, isn’t that the charge of lawmakers – to find common ground and advance good policy? We submit that annual-supply birth control should be at the top of that list and hope our colleagues will join us in transcending ideological labels and partisanship to get this done for Missourians