Women and girls in California can now purchase hormonal contraceptives, including pills and patches, without any prescription from a physician. Customers just need to notify pharmacists, who will provide them a form with health questions, after measuring their blood pressure.
The new law was passed by state legislators in 2013, but it remained in discussions until Friday. Regulators have explained that the approval seeks to increase access to birth control while reducing rates of early or unintended pregnancy.
Oregon and Washington already allow women over 18, to buy oral contraceptives without a doctor’s order. Nonetheless, California is the only state in the U.S. that has approved a similar law for every woman, without age restriction. Other states including Hawaii and Tennessee are currently proposing similar legislation.
That said, the law covers self-administered hormonal birth control, which includes pills, patches, injections and vaginal rings, said L.A. Times on Saturday. On the other hand, arm implants and intrauterine devices (IUD) can only be administered by a doctor.
How is the process of buying contraceptives now?
A pharmacist will take the blood pressure of patients after they request any contraceptive method covered by the law. Then, they need to fill out a self-screening tool containing a list of health questions that will determine if birth control is safe for them.
Every year, or every time the patient notes a major health in change, they need to fill a new form, which should be available in alternate languages for patients who don’t speak English. A copy of it will be securely stored by the pharmacy, for at least three years, said regulators.
Questions include: what was the first date of your last menstrual period?, do you smoke cigarettes, do you have diabetes?. Here you can access the complete list: http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/laws_regs/1746_1_pt.pdf
Pharmacists will proceed to explain how the selected contraceptive method works, how to take it and its possible side effects. Moreover, they will always recommend women to get regular health screenings with their gynecologist. The importance of protecting against sexually-transmitted diseases will be also remarked.
Which is the impact of getting contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription?
The most used birth control method in the country is the pill. According to the Guttmacher Institute, the average American woman wants two children. To make it possible, they must use contraceptives for nearly three decades.
There are 6,500 community pharmacies in California. According to Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, the new law is wonderful for women in the state, since birth control will be more accessible than ever.
“Community pharmacies are open beyond normal business hours and patients do not need an appointment to see their pharmacist. That means these regulations will go a long way to expanding women’s access to birth control.” Said Roth in a press release.
Some legislators and physicians have proposed that contraceptives should be over-the-counter products. However, that decision can just be taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Dr. Daniel Grossman, a professor at UC San Francisco School of Medicine, said to Mercury News that the law helps people who can’t pay for insurance. On the other hand, he thinks that buying birth control without a doctor’s prescription will not stop women of going to the obstetrician-gynecologist.
“I don’t think we should be holding women’s contraception hostage and forcing them to come in to have these other tests that are unrelated to the prescription of birth control, and saying we won’t give them birth control unless they do these other things,” said