Is Birth Control Legal? Many Missourians Unsure
Friday, September 1, 2023
One in four Missourians either doesn't believe or doesn't know that using birth control pills is legal in the state.
The Right Time, an initiative of the Missouri Foundation for Health that has said it's committed to expanding access to contraception, surveyed 1,000 Missourians this spring. More than half the people surveyed didn't know that emergency contraception is legal.
Michelle Trupiano, executive director of the Missouri Family Health Council, said many Missourians are concerned that elected officials will enact laws to restrict people from using the birth-control method they want.
"We see this, really, as a fallout from the Dobbs decision, and just a lot of the conversation that is happening around reproductive health," she said, "and that the extreme misinformation is leading people to inaccurately believe that they cannot access some forms of contraception and emergency contraception."
She said correcting that misinformation is one of the council's primary goals, with its newly launched "Free EC" contraceptive access project. Free EC kits can be picked up at more than 40 locations throughout the state, or requested by mail at MFHC.org/EC.
Lucia Obergoenner, a nurse practitioner at East Missouri Action Agency Women's Health Center, said she sees too many patients coming into the facility with incorrect information. She said she'll never forget a particular patient who walked in with tears in her eyes.
"She said, 'Lucia, you can't give me this Depo injection because you may go to jail.' And my heart just dropped, and I said, 'Well, let's talk about this.' So, she calmed down and we talked about her birth-control method, and what it is and how it works," Obergoenner said, "and how it's not abortion - and that I am not going to go to jail, and neither will she."
In the survey, more than 70% of respondents - no matter their political views - said they think the Missouri Legislature should pass policies to make birth control more affordable and accessible. More than 80% supported people ages 18 to 35 having access to all forms of birth control.
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