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'This is a priority': Group advocating for universal access to contraceptives in Sask.


A group of medical students at the University of Saskatchewan are calling on the provincial government to make contraceptives available for free, under universal health care.

As of April 1, British Columbia initiated a program making contraceptives, like the morning after pill and intrauterine devices (IUD), free of charge.

Universal Access to Contraceptives Saskatchewan wants to see similar measures implemented by the provincial government.

“People aren’t able to make the reproductive health choices that are best for them because cost is a prohibitive factor,” co-founder Wardah Mahmood told CTV News. “People are more likely to choose short-term, less-effective forms of contraception as opposed to more long-lasting ones because that’s what they can afford.”

“Physicians tell us it’s a daily occurrence. Patients come in and are unable to access contraception due to cost,” said co-founder Brynne Stebbings.

The advocacy group believes enactment would grant women more access to essential health measures.

“This is a priority,” said Mahmood. “When we’re talking about groups that are marginalized especially youth, newcomers and Indigenous peoples, this is a really marked issue."

The procedure to get and IUD can cost women up to $400 up front. Oral pills range from $20 to $30 every month.

Vasectomies are currently covered for men under provincial health plans.

On International Women’s Day in March, the NDP presented a petition to the Moe government to cover the cost of contraceptives.

“I have not seen one example of this government taking reproductive rights seriously,” NDP MLA Jennifer Bowes said. “I have not seen one example of them advancing reproductive rights for people in our province, especially women.”

The Sask Party remained firm on its stance.

“We’re content with where we are right now,” Minister of Health Paul Merriman explained. “Just because one province is looking at one program doesn’t mean all provinces are going to do that. Maybe that works for B.C.”

“We’re satisfied with the programs we have right now,” he added.

Universal Access to Contraceptives Saskatchewan said it’s not just about pregnancy prevention.

“It’s used as a form of treatment for so many other types of health care issues,” Mahmood said. “People who deal with dysmenorrhea or even hormonal acne are taking contraceptives.”

“Those type of things should be covered as a form of treatment.” Top Stories

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