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Indiana Statehouse

Source: Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)

STATEHOUSE — A bill moving through the State Senate would require medical providers to discuss long-term birth control options with new mothers who are covered by Medicaid.

Written by State Rep. Rita Flemming, who is an obstetrician by trade, the bill’s intent, according to co-sponsor State Sen. Susan Glick (R-LaGrange), is to allow mother who has just given birth to have the option to have some “breathing room” after having a child by offering them a sub-dermal contraceptive that would last them a few years.

Under the bill hospitals would be able to offer the sub-dermal contraceptives and the cost would be covered by Medicaid. It would also be entirely the choice of the mother whether to accept the contraceptive.

It does not offer any other kind of long-term contraceptive such as an IUD. That is where State Sen. Shelli Yoder (D-Bloomington) has a problem with the bill.

“When the bill was written, the bill did have choices, but it was amended to now take those choices and now it’s just one,” she said. “It’s either sub-dermal or now IUDs.”

Glick responded to Yoder’s concerns in a Senate committee hearing last week and said that only offering one form of long-term birth control simply comes down to cost.

“It’s like buying cars for the state of Indiana,” Glick said. “We could buy Rolls Royces. We simply can’t afford Rolls Royces. But, if we buy a Chrysler and make it available as a police cruiser it’s probably more cost-effective.”

Glick said the bill is intended to lay the groundwork for more access to contraception that is covered by Medicaid for brand-new mothers. The cost and implementation of the plan are still on shaky ground though.

As Glick alluded to the cost is what drives the plan. She says sub-dermal contraceptives are a reliable and cheap way to provide birth control to women in Indiana, but sub-dermal contraceptives are also hard to come by. She said they hope to work with philanthropic partners to acquire and stock these contraceptives.

If that isn’t enough, Glick mentioned that some hospitals are willing to eat some of the cost in order to make sure they have them available.

The bill will have another committee hearing in the State Senate on Thursday as time starts to wear thin on getting legislation through both chambers and to Gov. Eric Holcomb. The bill has already passed in the Indiana House.