Starting next year, Oregon and California will be the first two states in the nation to offer birth control without a prescription. Women living in these states will be able to purchase birth control at the pharmacy after undergoing a short health screening performed by their pharmacist. The laws differ somewhat in the two states. In California there is no patient age restriction, but in Oregon birth control may only be given to women 18 and older. Oregon women under 18 can still obtain birth control at their pharmacy; however they must show proof of a prior prescription from a physician. Furthermore, Oregon will require pharmacists to undergo training before they are allowed to dispense contraceptives.
These measures will be implemented with goal of making accessing contraception easier for both patients and clinicians. Clinics in both states have experienced an influx of patients who desire contraception who have recently been insured by the Affordable Care Act, and many clinicians are hopeful that these measures will help streamline the process of obtaining such necessary, basic health care.
These measures are an exciting step in making contraceptive care more easily available, and RHAP is thrilled to play a role in helping implement these new policies. In California, pharmacists will give patients a user guide with information and answers to frequently asked questions about their chosen form of birth control. The California Board of Pharmacy will be distributing the Reproductive Health Access Project’s Birth Control User Guides to pharmacists and pharmacies throughout the state. The fact sheets to be used will include our Depo Provera User Guide, Progestin-Only Pill (Mini-Pill) User Guide, Pill User Guide, Patch User Guide, and The Ring User Guide. These fact sheets will be available in six languages, and are an excellent resource for patients and pharmacists alike. We are excited to be able to play a role in this groundbreaking new measure, and hope that policies like this one are replicated in more states across the country.