Finally: You can now officially get birth control over the counter, without a note from your doctor.
Thanks to a groundbreaking new law that came into effect on January 1, Oregon is the first state permitting pharmacists to hand out birth control without a prescription, making crucial access to contraception easier for millions of women. California is primed to become the second state to allow over-the-counter birth control this March, and senators in both Colorado and Washington have also proposed similar laws.
Under Oregon’s new legislation, women over the age of 18 are eligible, and simply need to fill out a health questionnaire about their medical history, and—as long as everything checks out—the pharmacist will hand over 12 months of the contraceptive. Insurance companies will now also be required to cover a full year of birth control.
There are still a couple of things that could prevent you from getting prescription-free pills however: Women under the age of 18 will still need a doctor’s note, however KOIN 6 reports that particular regulation will change in the next few years under the just-passed law. Also, a pharmacist could still refuse to hand over birth control for religious reasons, but if a woman’s turned down, the professional is required to refer her elsewhere.
Of course, it’s still important to visit your gynecologist regularly for check-ups, but when you consider that nearly half of the 6.6 million pregnancies that occur every year in the U.S. are unintended, this law couldn’t spread across the country fast enough.
“Barriers to obtaining contraception contribute to our nation’s sky-high unintentional pregnancy rate,” Lauren Streicher MD, Associate Professor of Ob-Gyn at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and author Sex Rx-Hormones, Health, and Your Best Sex Ever told us.”It is irrefutable that increasing availability of pills will improve usage of contraception, and studies have consistently proven that when barriers such as cost and access are eliminated, unplanned pregnancy rates plummet.”