California women to get faster access to birth control
November 23, 2015
California is one of two states set to allow women to obtain birth control without visiting a doctor. [New York Times]
In the next few months, women in California and Oregon will be able to get contraceptive prescriptions directly from pharmacists. Under the new laws, pharmacists may prescribe hormonal contraceptives, including pills, patches and rings.
Pharmacists can prescribe birth control after a short screening process in which women fill out questionnaires about their health and medical histories. California pharmacists will likely take a woman’s blood pressure before prescribing contraceptives that contains estrogen.
The new law in California sets no age restriction for the new form of access to contraceptives. In Oregon, teens under 18 will have to obtain their first birth control prescription from a doctor.
State Rep. Knute Buehler, a Republican, sponsored the legislation in Oregon.
“I feel strongly that this is what’s best for women’s health in the 21st century, and I also feel it will have repercussions for decreasing poverty because one of the key things for women in poverty is unintended pregnancy,” Buehler said.
About half of the 6.6 million pregnancies that occur annually in the United States are unintended. Reproductive health groups and medical associations increasingly say contraceptives should be available over-the-counter.
Most western countries require women to obtain a doctor’s prescription for hormonal contraceptives. Federal law thus far has not made birth control available over-the-counter.
In Congress, Republican senators have recently endorsed legislation that would allow contraceptive manufacturers to apply for FDA over-the-counter approval. Some Democrats and women’s groups have been more concerned with specifying that over-the-counter contraceptives be covered by insurance.
Obamacare does not require plans to cover over-the-counter medications.