A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

A woman holds a packet of contraceptive pills. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Chilliwack women’s organization among those lobbying for free contraception

Ann Davis Society says while it’s a women’s issue, all of society would benefit from program

One of John Horgan’s promises during the election campaign was to provide free contraception to all who want it.

It’s an initiative that doesn’t sit well with Laurie Throness, the incumbent MLA for Chilliwack-Kent, and his explanation of why he opposes it led to his departure from the BC Liberals on Oct. 15.

But it’s also an idea that’s not new to those who work closely with women.

The folks at Ann Davis Transition Society were lobbying for free contraception well before it was part of the BC NDP’s election platform. The society’s executive director, Patti MacAhonic, sent a letter to John Horgan in January 2020 explaining the impact it would have on women and children, as well as the province.

MacAhonic provided that letter to The Progress following Throness’s comments against free contraception, in which he compared giving out free birth control to government-led eugenics.

“I was a little surprised,” MacAhonic said, about when she heard Throness’s comments. “And it was only one person, Kelli Paddon – a women – who actually said something when he spoke to this.”

Paddon is the NDP candidate in the most recent election in Chilliwack-Kent, and is currently sitting slightly ahead of Throness in vote counts. Their exchange was during a recorded all-candidates meeting for a Rotary club. The BC Liberals and the Green Party had both said they support the plan to provide free birth control.

READ MORE: BC Liberal leader rebukes Laurie Throness comparing free birth control to eugenics

MacAhonic said it’s unfortunate it took negative comments made by a man to bring the issue into the spotlight, since women and women’s organizations have been pushing for free contraception for decades.

“These are things that women have tried to bring forward for many, many years,” she said. “Women’s organizations lobby and advocate for this.”

But she said it’s a good time to let the public know just how impactful free birth control could be for society.

In her letter written in January, she explained that “61 per cent of pregnancies are unplanned, which can have a ‘huge ripple effect’ on a woman’s life, particularly if she is already struggling to get by.

“This ripple effect spans across the lifespan of both mother and child in that they may be relegated to living in poverty,” she continued.

As of Jan. 14, 2020, one in five children in B.C. live in poverty.

“When women have interrupted careers it translates to a lesser pension,” MacAhonic wrote. “This is reflected in the high rate of poverty for women seniors in this province. This issue is a gender equity issue. Contraception costs usually fall on women, as well as the costs of the pregnancy. Also, family costs often revert to the women as well along with the lifetime related costs.”

For those reasons and so many more, Ann Davis is one of many women’s organizations that have been pushing for a program that provides birth control.

When she sent the letter to then-MLA for Chilliwack, John Martin, a BC Liberal, his response was supportive and he suggested contacting Premier John Horgan.

The letter underlines the savings potential in giving women the opportunity to plan their own pregnancies.

“In 2015, a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal estimated the cost of universal contraception in Canada would be $157 million, but the savings, in the form of the direct medical costs from unintended pregnancy, is as high as $320 million,” she said.

There are social aspects to consider as well.

“Providing free prescription contraception would help reduce some of the stigma that still exists around birth control,” MacAhonic added.”School-age girls trying to get a prescription without their parents’ knowledge may be prevented by a lack of money. In May, the Canadian Paediatric Society released a position statement identifying cost as a “significant barrier” to using contraception for youth.”

READ MORE: B.C. NDP’s pledge of free birth control followed by Liberals, Greens


@CHWKcommunity
jpeters@theprogress.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

BC politicsBC Votes 2020

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Kalyn Head, seen here on June 4, 2021, will be running 100 kilometres for her “birthday marathon” fundraiser on July 23. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack woman’s 100-km birthday marathon to benefit Special Olympics B.C.

Kalyn Head hopes run raises awareness, advocates for inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities

RCMP investigating June 15, 2021 crash. (Black Press file)
Chilliwack RCMP say crash into median led to impaired driver investigation

Chrysler 300 driver allegedly collided with tree on Spadina median in June 15 incident

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

A small pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins pass by close to shore in Campbell River June 16, 2021. Still capture from video courtesy of Kimberly Hart
VIDEO: Dolphin sunset captured from Vancouver Island shore

Spectacular setting for view of travelling pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Bella Bella is on B.C.’s Central Coast, accessible only by air and ocean. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
B.C. provides $22 million for Heiltsuk development on Central Coast

Elders care home project, tourism, lumber mill supported

Most Read