By Sammy Caiola and Phillip Reese
Contraception has become more available and affordable in California as nonprofit groups, legislators and government agencies have pushed to reduce unplanned pregnancies. The government-funded Family Planning, Access, Care and Treatment program, administered through the state Department of Health Care Services, provides free family planning services including contraception to 1.8 million low-income residents. A 2013 state law allows women to pick up birth control over the counter.
In California, 99 percent of women live in a county with an abortion provider, compared with Wyoming, where just 4 percent do, according to the nonprofit Institute for Women’s Policy Research. California also has some of the least restrictive laws in the country about who can perform abortions and, unlike more conservative states, permits minors to obtain abortions without parental consent.
“States that have policies and that attempt to uphold women’s rights may just have a climate where women are freer to discuss and access health care coverage,” said Julie Anderson, senior research associate for the institute. “Maybe contraception is more understood, acceptable, available.”
Socorro Santillan, director of Fresno-based nonprofit group Barrios Unidos, said her goal is simply to prevent unplanned pregnancies. The organization provides sex education, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy checks and referrals to physicians at Planned Parenthood and other centers, if needed.