11:51 am Martin Bastuba

Will California Experience A New Dawn in Birth Control Options?

Will California Experience A New Dawn in Birth Control Options?

The state of California has often led the nation in social, environmental, and health-related causes. Now, a new bill, SB 523, also known as the “Contraceptive Equity Act of 2022,” has been passed by Governor Gavin Newsome. This is momentous, as SB 523 will greatly expand and modernize the quality of birth control in the Golden State for both men and women. 

Specifically, SB 523 will improve birth control access and reduce barriers to contraceptive care for all residents. And it may lead to other states expanding their birth control options. SB 523 should also help improve reproductive health outcomes among different populations, including communities of color, young people, and lower-income residents. 

What Is SB 523? What Are Its Goals? 

SB 523 was designed to advance contraceptive equity throughout California, no matter an individual’s gender, insurance coverage status, where they work, or where they go to school. SB 523 will transform California’s birth control options in the following ways:

  • Making birth control benefits gender-inclusive.
  • Requiring coverage of over-the-counter (OTC) birth control options and vasectomy services.
  • Expanding contraceptive coverage benefits to Californians enrolled in state employee and university and college health plans.
  • Clarifying that California employers may not discriminate or retaliate against their employees based on their personal contraceptive or reproductive health decisions.

Introduced by State Senator Connie Leyva, SB 523 was passed by the State Senate and signed into law on September 27, 2022. Jointly sponsored by Essential Access Health, NARAL Pro-Choice California, and the National Health Law Program, this bill also earned the support of many organizations, including those for healthcare, legal, business, education, and social justice.

Why Is This Contraception Law Necessary Now?

California’s government has previously passed legislation involving contraception. 

In 2014, SB 1053, also known as the “The Contraceptive Coverage Equity Act,” was signed into law. Introduced by State Senator Holly Mitchell, it required managed care and most commercial health plans overseen by Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive methods without co-pays, cost-sharing or restrictions.  

SB 1053 has since led to other states expanding birth control access, requiring health plans to cover OTC birth control pills, condoms, vasectomies, and other existing and future male birth control methods. In 2016, another bill, SB 999, introduced by State Senator Fran Pavley, was passed. This bill ensures that most California health insurance plans cover up to a year’s supply of hormonal birth control dispensed at once when requested by a woman’s healthcare provider

Despite these measures, disparities in reproductive health outcomes remain among California’s Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) residents. These communities continue to experience disproportionate rates of unintended pregnancies, infant and maternal mortality, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In addition, research shows that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened birth control access among youth, low-income people, and communities of color. 

Schedule A Consultation For A Vasectomy in California

The passing of SB 523 should have a powerful impact on the state’s residents, streamlining access to contraception. If you have any questions or concerns, we invite you to contact us for an appointment.