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Free birth control program creating months-long wait at some B.C. clinics: expert


Birth control and other contraceptives are free in British Columbia, but the year-long pilot project is rolling out with some issues.

Six different contraceptives, including IUDs (intrauterine devices), hormone injections and the morning-after pill, were first made freely available at the beginning of April.

"April 1 was a weekend and when we returned on Monday, there were 350 telephone calls and requests from physicians for referrals for IUD insertion. So it was a big jump for us," Dr. Renee Hall, medical co-director of Willow Clinic in Vancouver, told CTV's Your Morning on Wednesday.

Hall says the surge in demand means backlogs of up to two months for an IUD appointment. Willow Clinic also inserts contraceptive implants like Nexplanon and provides medicated abortions.

"When you've chosen birth control, that is the method that fits your lifestyle and you're not able to get it, you're using something that isn't ideal for you," Hall said. "So your risk for unintended pregnancy is higher during that period of time, which is why we've always tried to keep the waitlist down below two weeks."

With a decrease in the number of physicians inserting IUDs also adding to wait times, Hall said a remuneration fee could incentivize more physicians and clinics to provide the service. Additional government support could also help, she said.

"Some of our specialty clinics (that) insert IUDs all day long, need to have some government subsidy. It's very expensive," Hall said.

Birth control care is a specialized practice within medicine, meaning not all clinics provide related services.

"It's not something that everyone wants to do, just like maternity care, there's always going to be a group who loves doing it," Hall said, warning that backlogs won’t disappear without changes.

"Until there are some changes with regard to the way that IUDs are remunerated or these specialty clinics are subsidized, it's going to continue," she said. "There isn't an end in sight."


To hear the full interview click the link at the top of this article. Top Stories

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