Women with little or no health insurance would be eligible for free, long-lasting birth control under a program proposed by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).

Announced by Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) at a community college in Alexandria on Friday, the $9 million federal grant would cover intrauterine devices and skin implants as well as outreach to eligible women, training for clinicians and a study of the program’s impact.

“This is all about educating and empowering women to decide when and if they become pregnant,” Northam said at Northern Virginia Community College. “When women have access to this contraception, they choose on their own time when to start a family.”

Northam, who is running for governor in 2017, has been pushing for such a program for months. He wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post in Auguston the issue and argued for expanded access to birth control during a Brookings Institution event in October.

On Friday, he pointed to a similar program in Colorado that led to a 40 percent decline in the birthrate among teens between 2009 and 2013. The Colorado governor’s office said the state saved $42.5 million in health-care expenditures associated with teen births. And the abortion rate for 15- to 19-year-olds in participating counties fell 35 percent.

The devices would be distributed through Department of Health centers across the state. There is no requirement in Virginia for minors to have parental consent before having a contraceptive device implanted.

“It’s going to help women, and it’s also going to help the Commonwealth of Virginia economically,” Northam, a pediatric neurosurgeon, said of the program.

Although it relies on federal funds, the contraceptive program requires the approval of Virginia’s legislature, now controlled by Republicans, before it can be launched.

A spokesman for the Virginia House and Senate said lawmakers would review the proposal as part of the budget process. This year’s legislative session begins Jan. 13.

Hopefully the General Assembly will do the right thing.  When women can control their own reproduction, cyclical poverty is cut.   Children are expensive.  Not only must parents provide food, shelter and clothing, but they also have to find child care.  Those who can’t afford it are often on public assistance.  We pay for that.

Let’s play this one smart, rather than ideological.  Let’s prevent both the need for abortion and the need for increased public assistance by preventing unwanted pregnancy.  It’s an incredibly simple concept.

40 Thoughts to “Virginia proposal to reduce unwanted pregnancy: Access to contraception”

  1. punchak

    The very best way to cut down the number of abortions!
    Every baby, a wanted baby. One can dream, can’t one?

  2. Jackson Bills

    I don’t have an issue with this, sounds logical.

  3. Jackson Bills

    The one thing that I find odd is the notion that there are only two options… abortion or shackled to an unwanted child. Why is adoption never mentioned?

  4. Ed Myers

    I’d sweeten the deal and give every man or woman under the age of 21 $1000 per year if they agree to a long-term contraceptive.

    I know an easily reversible long term contraceptive does not exist for men, but if it did men should be part of this too. If the woman’s contraceptive is 85% effective and the man’s contraceptive is 65% effective then the combined protection is (1-.85)x(1-.65)=(1-.0525) or 94.75% effective. Providing contraception to both partners greatly reduces contraception failure.

  5. @Jackson Bills

    Why do you find it odd? Why should the state be involved with adoption when most adoptions are private?

    I don’t really see where that would fit in to this scheme.

    Over the years I have known people who gave up a child for adoption. Most of them, at least the ones I have known, have deeply regretted it.

    I also think that most women who go that far with a pregnancy end up keeping the baby.

    Let’s put it this way, healthy babies are a hot commodity. Supply-demand.

    I am not sure about the ethics of incentivizing giving birth for profit as a state sanctioned option.

  6. Pat.Herve

    It is about time. A dollar spent to prevent an unwanted pregnancy comes back 1000 fold over time. But alas, I am sure there will be people not happy about it.

  7. Steve Thomas

    I oppose abortion on demand. I do not oppose voluntary contraception. My questions regarding this proposal surround age and eligibility, specifically minors without parental consent or notification. Basically, the program must address these items, before I’ll say it’s a good use of taxpayer dollars.

    1. I am not sure what you mean by “abortion on demand.” Define please.

      I believe everyone is entitled to contraception, with or without parent permission for many reason.

  8. Pat.Herve

    @Steve Thomas
    Steve – I am with you here, but what happens when a 15 year old wants to have sex. The parents cannot stop it – and if the kid wants contraception and the parent prevents it – then the unwanted pregnancy happens. It is a conundrum. I do not want my kids having sex but would prefer to prevent the unwanted pregnancy.

    1. Totally agree, Pat. If you have raised the near perfect kid, then that kid should be able to go to his or her parents (generally her)

      I believe contraception should be available to anyone, with or without parent permission.

  9. Kelly_3406

    I thought Obamacare guaranteed that everyone in America would have health insurance. And contraception is required to be covered under Obamacare. Poor people are supposed to be covered under Medicaid, which provides contraception. So exactly who are these uncovered, downtrodden women who need yet another freebie to behave like adults?

    Me thinks this is aimed at teenagers who don’t want to use their parents’ insurance.

  10. Pat.Herve

    They are the people in the ‘hole’ – Virginia did not expand Medicaid coverage like other states did, so you have a good sized population with no coverage. Not eligible for Medicaid and do not make enough to get a subsidy to help offset the cost of coverage.

  11. Steve Thomas


    Giving a child prescription drugs or placing an item inside a child’s body, without first obtaining a parent’s consent, is wrong, unless that child is a ward of the state. This applies to every drug or device, regardless of what situation it is trying to prevent. Some agency doling out pills, injections, or IUDs to my daughter without my consent is a violation of my parental rights. Why kids today can’t do what kids did when I was young, is beyond me. They went to a gas station or to a pharmacy, and bought condoms and foams.

    This appears to be just one more example of governmental overreach. Someone needs to show me from where the government derives the authority to by-pass a parent’s right to consent. If. A parent consents then that is their business. Kids will drink and smoke, and we’ve no issue with making it unlawful for and adult to provide these to kids. Heck, even parents run the risk of losing their kids if they do.

    1. If a kid goes to a doctor in private practice, is that kid not given contraception? I believe they are. I believe the object is to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

      I think there is a whole world of kid out there that people don’t realize. I am not just talking about lower economic kids. I am talking about kids from all socio-economic strata.

      Steve, it isn’t like when you were a kid. Kids have access to information I never knew existed until I was a grown woman. Its just the reality.

      I guess my sentiments are: you either want to cut out the need for abortion and/or social programs or you don’t. Cutting out the pregnancies is the only way I know to do it.

      Let’s also not forget the number of parents who really aren’t all that involved. I had a bird’s eye view for many years. This program is needed.

  12. Steve Thomas

    Abortion on Demand: any abortion without a valid medical reason, ie. to save the life of the mother as in the case of an Ectopic pregnancy or in cases where the child would be born with severe defect that is medically defined as “incompatible with life”. Basically, if the pregnancy will kill or seriously harm the mother, or the child will not survive outside of the womb.

    1. That would pretty much be my criteria for 22 weeks and over.

      When would this begin? Fertilization? Conception?

      I think women have the right to control their own reproduction up until that time. After that, viability is questionable and then definite. Unless women have the right to control their own reproduction, then they are really second class citizens.

  13. Emma

    When my kids were old enough to drive, they still needed my written consent just to go to the dentist to get their six-month cleaning. Same for getting eye exams and contact lenses refilled. So consent for basically having their teeth polished and examined, but no consent for having hormone-altering pills or injections, or medical devices implanted inside of their bodies? And who gets to bear the costs if an IUD causes an infection, for example? Planned Parenthood?

    While I believe generally that contraception is a public health good, I can’t get past my discomfort with minors–who may not always understand their medical histories or the risks well enough–being able to bypass their parents for this, but not for other far less invasive procedures.

    1. I always thought that IUDs were not applied to women unless they had already had a pregnancy? Most girls are going to choose the pill or depro.

      I don’t think any of those things are as dangerous as having a baby.

      What we really aren’t looking at is how having a child when you are a child is kicking a kid into poverty or her parents into being parents without their consent.

      If you don’t like abortion, then access to contraception seems like the best alternative.

  14. Pat.Herve

    Steve – I do not disagree with you. I feel the same way.

    But, I would rather be disappointed and have a hard conversation with my daughter about her getting birth control behind my back rather than having to deal with her pregnancy with a loser that will be attached to her for the rest of her life (the dad loser). Same goes for my son.

    They are not forced to get contraception – it is for someone looking to get contraception. Hopefully you and I have relationships with our children that we do not need to have either of those conversations. The easier you make birth control available – the less abortions you have – that is what the facts say.

    1. You can also have the best, most open relationship in the world with your kid and still have a few surprises. Why? Often its because they don’t want to disappoint you.

      I would be opposed to holding back contraception because some parents don’t want their kids to have it. Tell your kid not to use it. Its that simple…or is it?

      Maybe you would rather have your daughter or son attached for life to some loser. I wouldn’t.

  15. Kelly_3406


    Many have speculated that Virginia’s decision to decline a Medicaid expansion has created an insurance “hole”. However, I have never seen any facts to back that up. In Virginia, the rate of uninsured has actually increased since Obamacare went into force. The lack of Medicaid expansion does not explain this increase.

    There is already free contraception at PP, county health clinics, schools, universities and probably many more places that I do not know about.

    How many free contraceptive programs are needed?

    As others have stated, there is a problem with contraception for minors without the parents’ consent or knowledge. A risk of complications always exists, particularly for implantation of intrauterine devices. The parents can be left with a grave, expensive medical event, courtesy of a free state program that might not consider the full family medical history.

    1. I can’t think of a single public school that offers contraception.

      Who many contraceptive programs are needed? How many unwanted pregnancies are there? If there are any, perhaps there are not enough.

      I don’t think most teenagers go for the UID. Most go for the pill or depro.

      Parents can also be left caring for a child that is not theirs. Guess which happens more frequently?

      If people are raising the perfect children who they don’t want to ever have contraception, then tell their children not to do this.

      Condoms and foams are also contraception. OTC.

      As for Obamacare, I suggest that congress get in there and fix what’s wrong with it rather than always having to do away with it. All I hear is getting rid of it, rather than fixing the problems people are having with it. I seriously doubt if Medicare came out perfect the first time.

  16. Ed Myers

    Oh, good opportunity to point out a parallel…

    Children die because of lax gun ownership rules that allow kids to accidently or purposefully have access to guns at the homes of friends even if that kid’s parents oppose guns and don’t give their child permission to be near a gun. Gun owners say: that’s the sacrifice we must endure for the freedom to own guns; freedom isn’t free.

    If every teenager that wanted birth control got it there would be a few that die from complications. Reproductive rights advocates are willing to sacrifice a few teenagers in exchange for a dramatic reduction in abortions even if the child’s parents oppose sex until after age 21.

    Both sides want a freedom (own guns, have sex without babies) without negotiating with or indemnifying all the people who could be harmed by that freedom.

    Society bears the cost of gun violence because we are unable to control gun owners misuse of their guns. Likewise society bears the cost of unwanted babies because we are unable to control sex such that it doesn’t produce babies. Technology exists to reduce gun violence and unwanted pregnancies but ideologues oppose both in the name of some other freedom (e.g. freedom from taxation, freedom from interference in family life, freedom from crime, etc.)

    1. You have given me something to think about.

      I think very few teenagers die of complications of contraception. However, there are other issues….

  17. Pat.Herve

    the uninsured rates in Virginia has certainly come down due to the ACA – 13.1% in 2013 and 11.2% in 2014 – http://kff.org/uninsured/fact-sheet/key-facts-about-the-uninsured-population/

    The hole certainly exists. If you are not eligible for Medicaid and make less than 138% of the federal poverty level, you do not get a subsidy – nor Medicaid in Virginia. If you are two people in the household and make $21k a year – no Medicaid and No subsidy. If you lived in Maryland, you would get Medicaid. It is a known hole – hence the Medicaid expansion.

    21 year old male – you are not on Medicaid no matter how low your salary. Same for a woman with no children.

    1. I was getting ready to chime in, if you are a male over 21 you just don’t get medicaid in this state, regardless of circumstances. If you are unemployed, tough crap.

      It seems to me that there is a left handed incentive for women to have children. Hmmm…that’s not good. Medicaid for one seems preferable to medicaid for 2.

  18. Steve Thomas

    I would have a similar conversation, were I to learn that my daughter had obtained contraceptives without speaking with at least one of her parents. That really isn’t the issue I have. My issue is with the government, who really has no responsibility for the psychological, moral and physical development of my child, providing my child with contraception involving prescription drugs or an implanted device, without my knowledge consent.

    Sure, such a program would likely reduce teen pregnancies, which have fallen dramatically in recent years. Such general societal benefit doesn’t make my parental rights secondary. Wisdom teeth extractions can be performed as a preventative too. Does the government have the right to pull a child’s teeth, without parental consent? How about piercing her ears? The government cannot take a child on a school trip, without parental consent. The law stipulates this limitation on loco parentis of schools. When last I checked, the only government institution having any such powers don’t include doctors, health clinics, public or private, except in extremis, when faced with an immediate threat to life. Preventing teen pregnancies isn’t and immediate threat. Free condoms or other OTC contraception, those things one could purchase at a local CVS or Walmart is different. They aren’t hormones or medical devices. They also protect against std’s. Sure they can fail. So can the pill if you miss one, and so can an IUD, if it becomes dislodged. How many times have we heard ” the government should stay out of the bedrooms of adults”. What right do they have to invade my dinner table? What right do they have to provide a prescription or medical device to my child, without my consent? They don’t.

    1. What right does CVS have to provide contraception to your child?

      I dont think the government is the enemy, since the government is the sugar daddy who will have to pay for the unwanted kids coming into the world.

      Foam most certainly can have bad side effects. Foam causes severe urinary tract infections in some women. It also isn’t all that effective compared to other products. It also doesn’t do much for preventing STDs.

      I don’t like these comparisons being made to pregnancy. Pregnancy is unique. It causes girls and women to either have abortions, miscarriages or babies. All of those consequences are serious–the younger the female the more serious.

      I think it is more important for you to outline the behavior you expect from your child. Why blame someone else if your kid goes out and obtains contraception? What if she went to some doctor down the road and paid for it with her allowance?

      Me? I would far rather my kid sneak contraception that have a baby at a young age. If you don’t want your kid using contraception, then I guarantee you don’t want her asking for an abortion. Education is interrupted. Adoption is psychologically horrible on many girls and women and most parents dont want to raise a grand child as their child.

      In a perfect world, I think all responsible parents would want to know that their child was taking contraception. Let’s face it, the contraception is a side issue. We really want them making smart sexual choices. Let’s be even more honest…how about leave it alone until you are grown and can make adult decisions…and while you are at it, pick someone I would like and respect…but I digress.

      I have 3 grown children. I don’t look through rose colored glasses as much as I used to.

  19. Cargosquid

    No medicaid for single males over 21?

    Funny, our friend was a part time sheriff in his sixties, no insurance, ended up in the hospital, 1.5 million in costs.
    Medicaid covered it until it turned out that workman’s comp paid for it.

  20. Censored bybvbl


    Are you sure that Medicare didn’t cover it?

  21. Kelly_3406


    I have seen numbers that suggest that the percent of insured in Virginia has decreased. Even if your numbers are correct, the increase is certainly not big enough to justify Obamacare and all that it has brought. The lack of many new customers is the reason that so many of health insurance companies are in trouble.

    I will support whichever candidate pledges to repeal Obamacare. If it is repealed, perhaps we can go back to choosing the particular insurance that meets our personal needs without being mandated to include coverage for such things as contraception if it is not desired.

    1. Do you not see some good in Obamacare? Did you not see a problem before? I see so many good things that have come out of it. There are definitely some negatives. Let’s fix the negatives so we have a good system.

      The idea that it is “Obama” care is what makes some of you want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

  22. Starryflights

    I support Northam’s proposal

  23. Pat.Herve

    I do hope that we never see the day that pre-existing conditions come back as a determinator to see if you can get coverage or not.

    Having a minimum coverage is smart – same as an automobile – when you choose to have collision insurance you do not choose to cover the front fender and not the rear. You never really had much of a choice anyway, as most coverage is provided by an employer who chooses the plan for you. It also allows one to compare plans across insurance companies, something that one was never able to do before.

    For all the talk that there is about the repeal – I do not think they will do it. Can it be fixed and improved – hell yeah it can be. Fix it. If the Republican Congress came up with some ideas (other than repeal) it would help their candidate in November, but I am doubtful that they will.

    Those are not my numbers, those are the facts. In many states, the improvement has been more dramatic than in Virginia. Hopefully the day of medical bankruptcies will be behind us – medical bills is the number one reason for bankruptcies. http://www.investopedia.com/slide-show/top-5-reasons-why-people-go-bankrupt/ Who gets stiffed when someone files for bankruptcy – you and I because we pay our bills.

  24. Cargosquid

    @Censored bybvbl
    Once more information was forthcoming….we found out he owned a house after he died, Medicaid wanted reimbursement….then the workman’s comp paid them back.

  25. Cargosquid

    It cannot be fixed or improved.
    It goes against basic American principles.
    No gov’t should be able to mandate that I purchase anything just because I am alive.

    1. Yes if you were sick, the rescue squad would pick you up, take you to the hospital and you would be treated.

      How about that car insurance. If you want to drive a car, you have to insure that car.

      Obama care could easily be fixed. It’s unAmerican to have people unable to have insurance because they can’t afford it.

  26. @Cargosquid

    Maybe old people can get it. I don’t think young men can get it though…

  27. Pat.Herve

    What goes against American Principles is the EMTALA – that tells a private entity that they must give away services without verifying payment. How is that American.

    If you want to repeal one, repeal both. I do not want to see pre-existing conditions come back where an insurance company decides if I get coverage or not. I do not want to see someone go bankrupt because their child became ill.

    2002 – teen denied insurance because he was hiv positive – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/murray-waas/insurance-company-must-pa_b_289841.html?

    2007 – 12 year old dies after losing Medicaid coverage – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/03/02/AR2007030200827.html

    Cancer treatments denied due to unreported Acne. Pathetic.

    Sure it can be improved. Congress has been blocking improvements ever since it was passed. But they can vote on a Repeal of Obamacare, but not an AUMF. Or a Federal Judge. Not voting is not doing their job – vote – I do not care if it is up or down – just vote.

Comments are closed.