Are California women to expect a future of over-the-counter birth control pills?

young woman holding a pack of birth control pills

Currently in California, women are required to see their physician for birth control, be it an intrauterine device or even a daily pill. Although majority of insurance plans cover birth control, the long process of having to see a doctor is often what keeps women from accessing contraception, according to healthcare experts.

Aiming to simplify the current healthcare system, a new law seeks to ease women’s access to birth control.
Expected to go into effect in April, this new law will finally allow women to buy birth control pills sans prescription from their physicians. Under this new law, pharmacists will be able to dispense self-administered hormonal contraception like pills, patches, and vaginal rings. Once the law gains regulatory approval, California will be the third state to allow pharmacist-issued birth control.

Many women welcome the convenience of just going to their neighborhood pharmacy and picking up birth control. However, many are worried that this convenience may keep women from seeing their physician and undergoing preventive tests for sexually transmitted infection, breast cancer, cervical cancer, and the like. But supporters of the bill insist that women are smart enough to know when to see a doctor. Also, before giving out birth control, pharmacists are required to administer a screening questionnaire and to recommend seeing a physician if medical guidance or assistance is deemed necessary.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has also expressed opposition towards this new law. The group’s president, Dr. Mark S. DeFrancesco, stated, “We do not think this law goes far enough.” What they would like to see is birth control becoming truly over-the-counter, that is, not requiring permission from a doctor or a pharmacist.

Ultimately, for many, this new law seems to be a step towards the right direction. It has the potential to reduce unintended pregnancies, which make up almost half of the pregnancies in the country.
How about you, are you in favor of this new law?

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