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Contraceptive access for incarcerated people in Utah is one step closer to being permanent

Oral contraceptive pill on pharmacy counter.
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Contraceptive drugs can treat a number of medical conditions, including endometriosis, migraines, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Utah Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, wants to make a program providing contraceptives to inmates permanent.

Contraceptive drugs can treat a number of medical conditions, including endometriosis, migraines, and polycystic ovary syndrome.

The bill, H.B. 77, passed its first committee hearing Friday and now heads to the full House.

The Legislature approved the program last year, but only for a year. Legislative staff originally estimated it would cost about $88,500 per year. But it turns out, the program only cost the state less than half of that.

Dailey-Provost unsuccessfully sponsored similar bills in 2019 and 2020 before passing the one-year program in 2021.

“The big factor that created a lot of pushback for a lot of years was how much it would cost,” she said. “It turned out that it was significantly less than anybody anticipated and the outcomes have been really good.”

Michelle Teasdale, a nurse practitioner at the Salt Lake County Jail, said the program is vital to many inmates.

“Since contraception is used to treat women for many distressing medical reasons,” she said, “an abrupt discontinuation of treatment can cause unnecessary side effects and worsening of the symptoms for the condition they are being treated for.”

Sonja Hutson is a politics and government reporter at KUER.
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