Birth control is about to be much easier to obtain in the famously progressive states of California and Oregon, as new laws will allow women to get a prescriptions for birth control from their pharmacist rather than their gynecologist. In addition to being easier to get, the birth control will be paid for by health insurance.
According to the New York Times, the landmark new laws will take effect in the next few months and will enable pharmacists to prescribe all kinds of contraceptives to women. Women will simply have to fill out a questionnaire about their medical history to obtain the birth control.
The new laws were inspired by the fact that about half of the annual 6.6 million pregnancies in America are unintentional. Both legislators and health care professionals have argued for years that birth control needs to be more accessible, as unintended pregnancy is a leading cause of poverty among women.
Although Republicans have hardly been the champions of women’s reproductive rights in the past, even they had to admit that the new law only made sense.
“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,” said State Representative Knute Buehler, a Republican who sponsored Oregon’s law.
Although there has been little argument about the new laws amongst politicians, The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is not quite as enthusiastic. They have argued that all birth control pills should be available as over the counter drugs without any prescription. The organization has expressed concern that allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives may derail efforts to make all birth control over the counter.
On the flip side, birth control is currently mandated to be covered by insurance under The Affordable Care Act. If it were over the counter medication, some people have argued that it would actually hurt poor woman as it would no longer necessarily be covered by insurance.
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