Alaska House votes to boost access to birth control

After three years of work, the Alaska House of Representatives on Monday voted 21-17 to approve a bill that would allow doctors to prescribe up to a year’s worth of birth control on a single script. Currently, doctors may prescribe only three months of contraceptives. The bill also requires health insurers to cover birth control, including devices such as IUDs and implants.

The bill could have a significant impact in Alaska, where according to the latest available statewide figures from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, 70 percent of women 18 and older use some kind of birth control. Oral contraceptives are used by 20 percent of those who use birth control.

House Bill 25, sponsored by Rep. Matt Claman, D-Anchorage, now advances to the Senate, where approval is uncertain.

“It’s about time that our access to birth control caught up to the world that we live,” said Rep. Ivy Spohnholz, D-Anchorage, speaking in favor of the bill on the House floor.

Spohnholz said that in a world where women work on remote fishing boats, oil rigs and on the International Space Station, they should not be held back by access to contraceptives.

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