Two Columbia clinics added to free or low-cost birth control network
COLUMBIA (Missourian) - Planned Parenthood and Spectrum Health Care in Columbia have joined a network that provides free or low-cost contraceptive services to women in Missouri.
In 2019, the first year of "The Right Time" initiative, six health centers with 13 locations around the state joined the provider network. Now, six additional health centers in 19 locations have been added, including two in Columbia, bringing the total across the state to 32.
The Columbia/Boone County Public Health and Human Services Department is already part of the network.
In Missouri, 51% of all pregnancies are described by women as unintended, according to a Missouri Family Health Council news release.
Although the unintended pregnancy rate has declined, rates remain high among women of color and those in rural areas, according to the release.
"Disproportionately high COVID-19 death rates for Black Americans underscore in stark terms the ongoing inequalities in health services in America," Michelle Trupiano, executive director of Missouri Family Health Council, said in the news release.
The release also referred to last week's Supreme Court decision, allowing employers and universities to opt out of the part of the Affordable Care Act that requires them to provide coverage for contraception. The decision could leave more than 70,000 women without birth control, opponents have estimated.
"As a result of the recent Supreme Court ruling on contraception, some women in Missouri will be paying for, or pay more for, their method of birth control," Trupiano said in the release. "This will have a disproportionate impact on women of color and those of limited economic means."
The Right Time health centers "are dedicated to reducing health inequalities by removing the barriers that keep many Missouri residents, particularly those in marginalized communities, from receiving quality contraceptive services," she said.
The initiative, funded by the Missouri Foundation for Health, also helps to close considerable knowledge gaps about contraception, though more than four in five Missouri residents believe they have the information they need to avoid an unintended pregnancy, Communications Manager for Missouri Family Health Council Leslie Pritchard said.
More health centers are expected to join the initiative in 2021.