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Missouri initiative offers free birth control; hopes to break barriers to access in rural communities

Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 10:05 PM CST
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FORDLAND, Mo. (KY3) - A statewide initiative is offering free access to birth control.

Missouri Family Health Council runs The Right Time initiative, which executive director Michelle Trupiano says is focused on giving everyone free access to reproductive healthcare.

“One of the goals of the initiative is really to reduce inequalities that people may face and some of those inequalities may be based on location, especially for rural Missourians,” Trupiano says.

Trupiano says it includes all forms of birth control, making it easier for people to get access.

“Especially in one visit so they don’t have to come back multiple times,” Trupiano says. “Our sites, the majority of our sites, are also offering telehealth appointments where appropriate.”

Trupiano says there are barriers people may face when getting access to birth control in rural communities.

“There’s just limited providers so anything we can do to increase the number of providers, increase the number of access points,” Trupiano says.

The initiative is partnered with 13 different health centers across the state of Missouri. One of those is the Fordland Clinic.

Family Nurse Practitioner Debby Carl works at the Fordland Clinic. Carl says about 50 patients come in for free birth control each month.

Carl says the biggest barrier to access she sees is cost. However, the initiative offers it for free regardless of insurance.

“Some of our birth controls you can usually get on like the $4 list on Walmart but some of our long-acting methods like IUDs and Nexplanons, those are things that the right time grant is covering the cost for the appointment and for the device itself,” Carl says.

Trupiano says across the state, 51% of pregnancies are considered unplanned.

“That is based on what the pregnant person is telling us,” Trupiano says. “In some communities that are even higher. We know that the reason is a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s lack of access to a quality provider, especially if you are uninsured.”

Carl says there are still some concerns over talking about sexual health.

“The other thing about being rural is that we are taking care of family members across the board so I will have generations of families that we’re taking care of,” Carl says. “The biggest thing with healthcare, in general, is that we want to make patients feel that what they’re talking about is safe and it’s not going to be outside of that room.”

Find a clinic near you here.

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