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Providing birth control to female inmates deemed medically



SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah House passed a bill on Tuesday that would require jails to give female inmates the contraceptive medication they received before their incarceration.

HB102 would prevent poor outcomes for mothers and children, as well as save the state money incurred by Medicaid for complicated deliveries, bill sponsor Rep. Jen Dailey-Provost, D-Salt Lake City, said.

While few babies are actually getting conceived in jails, the disruption in a woman’s birth control during the average 27-day stay can cause pregnancy if she has sex soon before or after her incarceration, Dailey-Provost noted.

Doctors also prescribe contraceptives for a score of medical conditions including endometriosis, polycystic ovarian syndrome, anemia and heavy menstrual bleeding, she said.

During a debate in the House ahead of the bill’s final vote, some lawmakers questioned the program’s necessity and its cost to the state, while some emphasized that contraceptives are a medical need for many.

The only exceptions are birth control and controlled substances, he noted.

“Contraception is just a medicine. It’s medically necessary like other medicines,” Ward said. “My hope is today that we would think about that medicine as being the same as any other medicine.”

The bill would include oral and injectable contraceptives, as well as intrauterine devices for women who are prescribed them because they face serious side effects from the other contraceptive forms. Morning-after pills, which are not considered contraceptives, would not be included. Jails would only be obligated to provide the medications that were prescribed to women before their incarceration.

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