Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe recently proposed a $9 million program which would make birth control and contraceptives available to women with limited health insurance.
Irma Palmer, a spokesperson for the Democratic governor, said the proposal is a matter of promoting women’s privacy and personal health care choices.
“The Governor believes that a woman’s health decisions are between her and her doctor,” Palmer said in an emailed statement. “The Administration wants to use a $9 million federal grant to cover birth control for women with inadequate or no health insurance. This will help all women make their own decisions about their health.”
The proposal was spearheaded by Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat who is running for governor in the upcoming 2017 election.
The major components of the proposal by McAuliffe include providing free contraception to eligible women, conducting outreach to educate and raise awareness of contraceptive choices, training clinicians to implement appropriate procedures and measuring the impact of the increased access to birth control.
One of the primary focuses of the proposal is to provide young and economically disadvantaged women with access to long acting reversible contraception, which are an alternative contraception choice to either birth control pills or condoms.
Alexsis Rodgers, policy director to Northam, said a key part of the proposal emphasizes the use of LARCs, and includes funding for educating doctors about these contraceptive tools.
The Virginia Department of Health will be responsible for developing and implementing the outreach program associated with the proposal, Rodgers said.
University Democrats President Sam Tobin, a third-year College student, said he believes the proposal would institute an invaluable program to provide financially-struggling women with control over their reproductive health.
“A teenage pregnancy can derail a life completely. It delays education plans, delays working, delays all these things that would economically harm these women,” Tobin said. “This program empowers them to control their lives and allows them to choose when to start their family.”
Tobin said although he believes the proposal is in the financial and social best interests of the state, he anticipates the proposal will receive high opposition in the Virginia House and Senate, which are majority Republican.
College Republicans did not respond to requests for comment regarding the proposal.
The proposal will be reviewed by the Virginia House and Senate as a part of the annual budget review. The legislative session began Jan. 13, but the bodies have not yet reached a conclusion in regards to the budget.