It’s estimated that 19 million women in the U.S. live in what are known as “contraceptive deserts,” defined as areas where women who are eligible for publicly funded birth control do not have reasonable access to the full range of methods available. This means that these women may have to travel more than an hour each way to obtain the method of birth control that works best for them. They may have to take time off of work or school to travel and may incur additional transportation costs to get there.
Our research team analyzed data on birth control access from Power to Decide in order to determine which states offer the best and worst access to contraception to women in need of publicly funded birth control.
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States With the Best Access to Birth Control
According to the data, the state with the best access to birth control is Illinois. Only 15.39% of its 2,805,470 women between the ages of 13 and 44 live in contraceptive deserts.
The following are the ten states that offer the best access to contraception based on the percentage of women in need of publicly funded birth control who live in contraceptive deserts:
- Illinois: 15.39%
- Vermont: 17.73%
- Maine: 20.43%
- West Virginia: 21.69%
- New Hampshire: 22.55%
- Maryland: 22.85%
- Virginia: 23.24%
- New Jersey: 23.46%
- Alaska: 23.57%
- Connecticut: 24.36%
On the other end of the spectrum, there are many states that do not offer reasonable access to birth control to their population. At the very bottom of the list is Arizona, where 33.60% of women in need of publicly funded birth control live in contraceptive deserts. Following closely behind Arizona is Oregon, where 32.93% of women in need live in contraceptive deserts.
How to Get Birth Control
Typically, women require a prescription from a health-care provider in order to obtain birth control. This can be provided by a primary care doctor, a gynecologist, or a health center like Planned Parenthood. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, most health insurance plans must cover a range of birth control options, though not all brands may be covered by each insurance company. For those who do not have health insurance, there are several publicly funded options available, like Medicaid, depending on income level.
Wondering how to get birth control pills without a doctor? In certain states, specially trained pharmacists are authorized to prescribe the pill, patch, ring, and shot without a prescription from a doctor. Currently, Washington, D.C., and 11 states (California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia) allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control. The birth control laws allowing this seek to provide timely and safe care to women seeking contraceptive options.
While most birth control options are perfectly safe, there are always risks with medications and medical devices, including risks associated with intrauterine device Paragard. It’s important to talk to your health care provider about all possible risks and benefits.