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New Laws in Two States will Allow Pharmacists to Prescribe Birth Control

Update Date: Nov 23, 2015 01:01 PM EST

New laws in two states will significantly change how women access birth control.

Western states, California and Oregon, have passed groundbreaking laws that will allow pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which include pills, patches and rings, without a doctor's prescription. The new laws would make getting birth control significantly more convenient for women, which could then potentially increase their usage rate and decrease the unintended pregnancy rate.

Women seeking hormonal contraceptives will have to go through a fast screening process with the pharmacist. The process includes a questionnaire that covers the health and medical data.

"I feel strongly that this is what's best for women's health in the 21st century, and I also feel it will have repercussions for decreasing poverty because one of the key things for women in poverty is unintended pregnancy," Oregon State Representative Knute Buehler, a Republican who backed the law, said reported by the New York Times.

Insurance companies will still be covering the contraceptives. It is unclear whether or not insurance companies will cover the screening portion. Pharmacists could charge a fee per customer.

The laws between the two states have some differences. In California, there will be no age limit whereas in Oregon, girls younger than 18 will have to get their very first contraceptive prescription from a doctor. In California, all of the customers who want a prescription for contraceptives made with estrogen will have to get their blood pressure taken.

The unintended pregnancy rate in the U.S. is at around 3.3 million per year, which is higher than the rates in several European countries. 

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