Should the Government Pay for Birth Control? Canadian Doctors Think So

The issue of government funding for contraception has fueled fierce ideological debate recently with our friends south of the boarder. Yet here in Canada, it appears our own debate is stirring.

Canadian doctors recently recommended that all forms of birth control be made available for free. A resolution was approved on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Canadian Medical Association that states, "The Canadian Medical Association supports full coverage for all forms of contraception."  

And while resolution DM 5-58 passed with about 70 per cent in favour, the issue still spurred lively discussion among the doctors.

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According to the CBC, the motion was introduced by Dr. Sarah Cook, a Yellowknife family doctor, who believes that birth control is not accessible enough, and that even when it is accessible, the cost is often prohibitive. Another Yellowknife doctor added that unwanted pregnancies are a far greater public health expense than birth control.

A similar argument was made when several American states recently cut subsidies for contraceptives, despite analysis that the cuts would cost more money than they saved, reports the National Post.

Some doctors at the meeting questioned which level of government would fund the initiative.

"Is this going to be a provincial or territorial or federal program that will be available to all patients? There's a cost that's involved," said Dr. Laurence Colman of Toronto.

Watch the CBC news video below reporting on the CMA meeting:

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It is not yet clear how the CMA will lobby the federal government to fund contraception, as providing healthcare falls under provincial jurisdiction. Exactly how the CMA resolutions will be implemented is something that will continue to be debated and decided by members throughout the year.

"The CMA carries a lot of weight, and I think it's great they'll be lobbying the federal government on this issue," says Agathe Gramet-Kedzior, acting executive director of Canadians for Choice, a national pro-choice charitable foundation. "Contraceptives should be fully-funded: they prevent STIs and unwanted pregnancies, which cost our healthcare system a huge amount of money."

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She points out that there are many reasons someone might not be able to afford birth control, be it woman in a precarious employment situation, or a young person that doesn't want their parents to know they're sexually active.

"This is a long time coming," says Gramet-Kedzior. "I would hope that politics would not get in the way of something like this, because it is a matter of health."

Matthew Wojciechowski -- project manager at Campaign Life Coalition, a Canadian pro-life advocacy organization -- sees the resolution as a poor financial decision.

"We're already drowning in debt, we're suffering financially," says Wojciechowski.  "We need more nurses, more doctors, better technology, but instead they're calling on taxpayers to fund lifestyle choices, and we don't agree with that."

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