These common-sense solutions to remove birth control barriers and protect pregnant women are critical, especially at a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at women’s health and rights.

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FOLLOWING the vote by the U.S. House of Representatives on the disastrous Affordable Care Act repeal bill, Washington state moved in another direction and passed a landmark bill that dramatically expands access to birth control in Washington state.

Gov. Jay Inslee this week signed a package of pro-women’s health bills into law, including HB 1234, a bill making Washington one of only a handful of states that requires insurance to dispense 12 months of birth control at one time, meaning that women will have to pick up their prescription only once a year. It is efficient and gives women control.

Everyone, no matter who you are or where you come from, deserves affordable and accessible birth control.

The bill was championed by state Rep. June Robinson, D-Everett, and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, among others.

The governor also signed SB 5835, a bipartisan bill securing additional workplace protections for pregnant women. The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Karen Keiser, D-Kent, ensures workplaces will provide reasonable accommodations to pregnant employees, as well as protections against discriminatory practices against pregnant employees.

These common-sense solutions to remove birth control barriers and to protect pregnant women are critical, especially at a time when politicians nationwide are chipping away at women’s health and rights.

Most women in Washington are able to get their birth control only one month at a time. It has been proven that consistent access to birth control gives people the ability to control when and if they have children, giving them more career and education opportunities, encouraging healthier pregnancies, and making them less likely to depend on government programs.

More than 90 percent of women in the U.S. use some type of birth control at some point in their lifetime. Consistent use of birth control is the best way to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies.

A recent University of California study showed that women who receive 12 months of contraception at a time are 30 percent less likely to experience an unintended pregnancy compared to women receiving one or three months of contraception.

Furthermore, this bill makes it easier for women with or without access to transportation, as well as those living in rural communities, to access the health care they need to prevent unintended pregnancies.

While Congressional Republicans are taking us backward when it comes to contraception, it is clear that birth control has helped women make tremendous strides forward — enabling them to earn higher wages, complete their education and pursue their dreams.

For women all across the country, and right here in Washington state, birth control access has meant money in their pocket and now freedom to pick up their pills once a year.