Lawmakers Vote On Bill To Make Birth Control Pills Available Without Doctor's Prescription

The Oregon House Health Care Committee will vote on a bill Friday that would change the types of services pharmacists are allowed to provide.

Among the changes, is an amendment proposed by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, that would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control pills to adults over the age of 18 without a doctor’s prescription. If adopted, the bill would broaden pharmacists' clinical practice to promote disease prevention and patient wellness.

The bill would require women to take a self-screening test to check for their risk of side effects. It would also permit health insurers to cover the cost of oral contraceptives prescribed by a pharmacist.

Buehler told Think Out Loud that the bill is important for bringing women’s health into the 21st century.

"It’s clear from best practices and evidence out there that having improved access to oral birth control really improves women’s health and decreases unintended pregnancies by up to 25 percent," said Buehler.

The bill would uphold the state Pharmacy Board guidance paper that allows pharmacists to opt-out from dispensing birth control for ethical, moral or religious reasons.

California is the only other state in the country to have adopted a similar bill.

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