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Many Missourians are confused about the legality of birth control and other contraception

According to findings from a Right Time survey, more than 50% of Missourians do not believe or know that emergency contraception is legal. The survey also found that roughly 72% of respondents across party lines want the state legislature to pass laws that make birth control more accessible and affordable.

A quarter of Missourians do not know or believe that birth control pills are legal in the state.

That’s one of the many findings released in a new survey through the Right Time initiative. Generally, many Missourians are unaware that some types of birth control are legal. More than half of the survey’s 1,000 respondents said they did not know or believe that emergency contraception is legal.

It’s not surprising, said Michelle Trupiano, the executive director of the Missouri Family Health council. She said opponents of reproductive health services have spent years running an intentional “deception campaign” about medication abortions and emergency contraception.

“So of course many people are then confused,” Trupiano said. “A lot of people think they are the same medication when in fact they are very two different types of medication. Emergency contraception prevents a pregnancy, and then of course medication abortion actually terminates a pregnancy.”

Right Time is an initiative of the Missouri Foundation for Health and the Missouri Family Health Council. The goal of the Missouri-based initiative is to provide access to contraception throughout the state.

“Since the Dobbs decision, I think people are even more interested in trying to find ways to access preventive health care,” Trupiano said. “Access to contraception doesn’t solve the abortion crisis that we are in, but again, we want to make sure that people know what their rights are and where they can access services.”

The survey also found that roughly 72% of respondents across party lines want the state legislature to pass laws that make birth control more accessible and affordable. Regardless of political party, Trupiano said, many Missourians have used birth control at least once.

“I think this shows a disconnect from real people, their ordinary lives, and what they want, and what our lawmakers actually try to push forward.”

In June, the Missouri Family Health Council launched its “Free EC” initiative to distribute more than 5,500 emergency contraception kits without charge. Trupiano said additional funding at the state or federal level is necessary to improve accessibility and knowledge across the state.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Marissanne Lewis-Thompson joined the KRCU team in November 2015 as a feature reporter. She was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri where she grew up watching a lot documentaries on PBS, which inspired her to tell stories. In May 2015, she graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor of Journalism degree in Convergence Journalism. Marissanne comes to KRCU from KBIA, where she worked as a reporter, producer and supervising editor while covering stories on arts and culture, education and diversity.
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