- Sometime this year, women in California will be able to get birth control without first visiting a doctor.
- Recent California legislation will allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, patches and rings. The medications will not be available over the counter.
- The same law will also allow pharmacists to prescribe smoking cessation products and some travel medications.
Since the U.S. has higher unplanned pregnancy rates than other developed countries, making birth control easier for women to obtain may not be a bad thing, some physicians and public health experts believe. The birth control methods the pharmacists will be allowed to prescribe have been deemed to be extremely safe by the medical community: "There is a risk of blood clots with OC [oral contraceptive] use, but it is extremely low and significantly lower than the risk of blood clots during pregnancy and the postpartum period," the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says on its website.
Conversely, this may not be welcome news for some providers since fewer doctor visits equals less income.
The U.S. is one of the few countries that still requires a doctor's prescription for birth control—a highly-politicized issue here. California is known for its progressive policies, so it remains to be seen whether this will catch on in other states.