By Natalie Schachar
Los Angeles Times.
Oregonians will be able to buy birth control at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription beginning next year, potentially making the state the first in the nation to allow the practice.
The bill was overwhelmingly approved in the state House and Senate and was signed by Gov. Kate Brown last week. It will go into effect at the start of next year.
“It makes no sense that men should have unrestricted access to contraceptives, while women must first get a prescription from their physician,” said Republican state Rep. Knute Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon who introduced the bill. “Birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible.”
California passed a similar law in 2013, but its implementation has been delayed as medical boards wrangle over rules allowing pharmacists to prescribe medication.
In Oregon, the state Health Authority, Board of Nursing and Board of Pharmacy have met to discuss regulations and training to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control. They already can prescribe smoking cessation drugs and travel pills.
In the U.S. Senate, Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have introduced measures that would allow women to buy birth control pills approved by the Food and Drug Administration over the counter.
The measures would make it easier for women to obtain birth control because the pills wouldn’t require a pharmacy prescription. The two federal bills are pending.
According to the Oregon law, women will now be eligible to buy birth control regardless of whether they have previously received a prescription from a primary care practitioner. Teenagers will be able to obtain hormonal or oral contraception with a previous prescription from a doctor.
“The ability to access birth control when you need it is critically important,” said Mara Gandal-Powers, counsel at the National Women’s Law Center.