While the national political landscape has been dominated by a (failed) push to eviscerate a venerable women’s health giant at the federal level, another quieter revolution is also underway—and it’s cause for applause. States are empowering pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, in addition to dispensing them. California and Oregon (in that order) are the first two states to put this change into effect. While it’s not exactly as easy as getting condoms, it’s at least one-stop shopping. Pharmacists are welcoming these new laws, since their extensive education and training means they’re more than capable of providing this level of care.
From coverage from the American Pharmacist Association:
Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA), said that with the Affordable Care Act, increased patient demand, and a shortage of physicians, the medical community has begun to see pharmacists as “an underutilized resource.” This is “a great example of where community pharmacies can really expand access to health care,” Roth added.
From Sacramento Bee coverage on the California law:
“Pharmacists are very excited to be able to use more of the training that they went to school for,” said Kathleen Besinque, an associate professor in the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy. “It’s the start of a better health care system for citizens of California where they can access things that they need when they need them.”
Especially since researchers recently found that birth control has prevented 400,000 cases of endometrial cancer—and previous research has shown dramatic benefits for ovarian cancer prevention too—we’re thrilled to hear birth control will soon be more widely available for women in California and Oregon. Women shouldn’t have to jump through hoops just for essential care.
It’s often said that states serve as laboratories in which to test new policies. For that reason, policymakers in other states are eager to see how things work with these new laws in California and Oregon. But when an experiment goes well, others should replicate it—right? We could have sworn that Colorado was basking in all the positive national attention they received from their successful, innovative program to curb teen pregnancies. The stats were never up for debate: 40% fewer pregnant teens, and a 35% reduction in abortion in a four-year period. But the program ultimately became a political casualty, losing its funding this year.
We are relieved that the vote to defund Planned Parenthood fell short in Congress, but Colorado and other states need help too. Let’s help states continue to strengthen access to reproductive care from the ground up. California and Oregon provide a helpful model.