Earlier this year, the Maryland General Assembly passed a law that backers say will guarantee Maryland women better access to birth control than in any other state in the nation, the 2016 Maryland Contraceptive Equity Act.
Much of the credit for the bipartisan support shown on such a divisive issue went to Planned Parenthood of Maryland.
The organization worked closely with the bill’s sponsors to draft the legislation and led efforts to build a coalition of public health organizations, medical experts, health-care advocacy groups and women’s rights advocates to help push it through. Planned Parenthood also negotiated with insurance carriers, testified before lawmakers and hosted a news conference that generated more than 75 stories.
Among other innovations, the law will broaden coverage of vasectomies without co-payments for men, provide coverage for over-the-counter contraceptive medications and allow women to receive six months of birth control at once, rather than just one month.
The result, advocates say, will be fewer unwanted pregnancies, especially among poorer women and teenagers. “The evidence clearly indicates that more effective contraceptive use drives down long-term unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy rates, and leads to better birth and health outcomes,” said Planned Parenthood President and CEP Karen Nelson.
The law takes effect in January 2018.