Just in, some good news for the women of Oregon state: hormonal birth control can now be purchased over the counter at pharmacies without a prescription from a doctor. Orgeon is the first state in the U.S. to implement a law allowing over-the-counter birth control purchases. This ground-breaking law went into effect on January 1. Hurrah!
In order to gain access to birth control, all women have to do (if they are 18 or older) is fill out a questionnaire detailing their medical and health histories at an Oregon pharmacy. The option to buy a year’s supply of birth control is also available as another new measure requires insurers to cover a 12-month supply of refills on contraceptions. Women under the age of 18, however, will still require a doctor’s prescription.
Unfortunately, pharmacists can still decline to offer birth control due to religious reasons, but they are required to refer customers to an alternative pharmacy.
According to OregonLive, Republican Rep. Knute Buehler, who is also a orthopaedic surgeon, was one of the main forces behind the establishment of the new bill.
“As a doctor, I think birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible,” the Republican explained. This statement came from Buehler during the summer of 2015 when he first began to urge legislators to support the bill. Buehler also added that “it makes no sense that men have unrestrained access to contraception while women do not.”
Oregon Health & Sciences University’s Dr. Alison Endelman is in full support of the bill but still cautions women against using it as a replacement for equally important preventive care (STI testing, cancer screening, etc).
“Just having birth control accessible through a pharmacist doesn’t mean preventative health care isn’t important. That’s not what this law is saying,” Endelman said in an interview. “(The law) is really allowing increased access to women for something that’s incredibly safe and a really big need for women.”
A similar law in California will be implemented in March 2016 (after a three year wait in 2013). Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington are considering the similar legislation. Here’s hoping that the bill travels swiftly to other states…