This January, Oregon’s lawmakers made new strides in providing women with easily accessible contraception. The first state in the country to make this decision, Oregon now allows its pharmacists—with the proper licensing—to prescribe and dispense birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings to sexually active females aged 18 and older.
Many pharmacists in Oregon are currently undergoing an online training process and exam conducted by Oregon State University that will allow them to dispense contraceptives to women at most large retail-chain pharmacies including Safeway, Albertson’s, and Costco.
Women who would otherwise have to wait and pay for an expensive gynecologist appointment can now simply go to the pharmacy, fill out a state-required questionnaire that screens for health problems which could conflict with taking hormonal birth control, and get what they need to prevent unwanted pregnancies on the spot.
The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, has been lauded by both liberal and conservative politicians. Democratic State Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward co-sponsored the bill with Republican Representative Knute Bhueler. Lawmakers and doctors both agree that the improved access to contraceptives will provide a dual advantage of assisting women with low incomes and lowering instances of unwanted pregnancy that could result in abortions.
Though Oregon’s new law has already been passed, many pharmacists must still complete the training process. Policymakers in Washington and California are both working on similar bills and plan to follow suit.
By Kiki Genoa