Over-The-Counter Birth Control Is Now Legal, But Doctors Are Leery
Women’s healthcare in the United States has finally advanced to the 21st century…sort of.
The state of Oregon has made it legal for pharmacists to prescribe over-the-counter birth control to women over the age of 18. The Oregon law which became active on January 1 allows women to visit their neighborhood pharmacy, fill out a health questionnaire and if the pharmacist deems the woman’s answers are in good standing, he/she will prescribe the birth control. Pharmacists in Oregon are also able to give a year’s supply of birth control because insurance companies are now required by law to pay for it during that time span.
Despite this major advancement for women, this new law, unfortunately, allows pharmacists the opportunity to deny birth control to women based on their religious beliefs. However if they deny an oral contraception request, they must refer the patient(s) to another pharmacy.
Doctors have noted to several media outlets that women should not allow this new found access to stop them from having regular gynecological check-ups. Most important, a doctor would better be able to prescribe the right birth control (based on health needs and hormone levels) to a woman than pharmacists. Dr. Alison Edelman, a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Oregon Health & Sciences University, told KOIN 6, “Just having birth control accessible through a pharmacist doesn’t mean preventative health care isn’t important. Really, they’re two different things we’re addressing. Obviously, we try to hit all of those in one visit, but really we shouldn’t be holding women hostage for them to be getting their birth control.”
Dr. Edelman’s statement is especially relevant in this time when women, particularly in low-income demographics, have trouble accessing preventative reproductive care in the United States, especially in Texas where several women’s health care clinics have closed.
As the battle continues for women to have the best of both worlds where their sexual health is concerned, the state of California is set to offer over-the-counter birth control statewide in the next two months.