The SRHR Conversation: BIPOC Contraceptive Care Access

Access to contraception is a fundamental aspect of reproductive health. Discussing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) contraceptive pill access is crucial because it highlights the disparities and inequities that exist in health-care systems. These disparities can lead to significant negative impacts on BIPOC communities, undermining Canada’s commitment to inclusive health care. 

BIPOC communities have historically faced barriers to accessing quality health care due to racial and ethnic discrimination, limited health-care facilities in their neighborhoods and economic disparities, among others. These barriers can hinder access to family planning services, including contraceptive pills. Lack of insurance coverage and limited access to affordable clinics can further exacerbate these disparities. 

It is also important to highlight representation and cultural competency. Lack of BIPOC representation among health-care providers and culturally competent health-care services can deter individuals from seeking care. A lack of understanding or sensitivity towards the unique needs and experiences of BIPOC communities can further contribute to disparities in access to and usage of health-care services 

Moreover, policies related to reproductive health care, including funding for family planning services, can impact accessibility. It is undeniable that BIPOC communities are often disproportionately affected by policy decisions that limit funding for health-care services, leading to reduced availability of contraceptive options. At the same time, limited availability of health-care facilities in marginalized neighborhoods can restrict access to contraceptive services. BIPOC individuals living in underserved areas may have to travel longer distances to access health care, which can be a barrier to consistent contraception use.

By addressing these factors, health-care systems can work towards improving the use and accessibility of contraceptive pills within BIPOC communities and promoting reproductive health equity. In Canada, efforts to ensure equal access to a range of contraceptive methods, including pills, for individuals of diverse backgrounds are guided by policies, programs and initiatives aimed at promoting reproductive health equity. 

For example, the Canada Health Act ensures that all Canadian citizens and permanent residents have access to medically necessary health-care services, including contraceptives. This act helps to create a baseline for equitable access to health-care services, including contraceptive methods. Many communities have family planning clinics and sexual health centers that provide a range of contraceptive options. These clinics offer services to individuals of all backgrounds, often with a focus on affordability and inclusivity. 

Advocacy groups and organizations also work to promote reproductive health equity and raise awareness about the importance of equal access to contraception for individuals of diverse backgrounds. 

It’s important to note that while these measures are in place, challenges and disparities still exist, particularly for marginalized communities facing systemic barriers. Efforts to promote equal access to contraceptive methods continue to evolve based on changing needs and emerging research. Collaboration among health-care providers, policymakers, advocacy groups and communities is crucial to ensure equitable reproductive health care access for all individuals, regardless of their background. 

There are many ways that policy changes at local, regional or national levels can better address the unique needs and preferences of BIPOC individuals seeking contraceptive pills. A reproductive justice framework that recognizes the intersections of race, gender, class and other identities in policy development can be incorporated. This approach emphasizes the right of individuals to make their own reproductive choices in safe and supportive environments. 

Secondly, advisory boards composed of BIPOC community members, health-care professionals and policymakers need to be established. These boards can provide insights and recommendations to ensure policies are effective and culturally relevant. Further to this, equity impact assessments of proposed policies to evaluate how they might affect BIPOC communities may also be conducted. These assessments can help identify potential disparities and make adjustments as needed. 

Policies can further mandate cultural competency training for health-care providers to ensure they understand the cultural sensitivities and preferences of BIPOC communities. This training should cover effective communication, respectful care and understanding cultural factors that might influence contraceptive choices. Diverse representation within health-care leadership and administration also needs to be encouraged to ensure that policies and practices reflect the needs and preferences of BIPOC individuals. This can promote inclusivity and responsiveness in decision-making.

By addressing the unique needs and preferences of BIPOC individuals seeking contraceptive care through thoughtful policy changes, Canada can work towards a more equitable and inclusive health-care system that respects the diversity of its population. Collaboration between policymakers, health-care providers, community organizations and BIPOC communities is essential for effective implementation.

BIPOC Contraceptive Pill Access is an initiative of Period Priority Project’s “The SRHR Conversation” series, which aims to promote discussions on reproductive justice. 

Leisha Toory is a Political Science undergraduate at Memorial University, the founder of Period Priority Project, and a SRHR activist. 


September 13, 2023


Leisha Toory