June 22, 2015 — The Oregon Senate Rules Committee on Thursday voted to approve a bill (HB 2879) that would permit women to obtain contraception without a prescription from a physician, AP/KTVZ reports.
The state House approved the measure by a 50-10 vote earlier this month. The bill now heads to the full state Senate for consideration. If approved, Oregon would be the second state to enact such a measure.
The bill would permit pharmacists to dispense oral contraceptives or hormonal patches to consumers after they complete a 20-question risk assessment (AP/KTVZ, 6/18). In addition, pharmacists would be allowed to prescribe birth control to a woman under age 18 if contraception previously has been prescribed to her by a traditional provider (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/4).
Under the measure, the state Health Authority and state Board of Pharmacists would be required to develop rules to ensure pharmacists safely prescribed the contraceptives. The rules would involve brief training sessions, the risk assessment and notification of a patient's primary care physician.
State Rep. Knute Buehler (R), the bill's sponsor, added that contraceptives would still would be covered under individuals' health plans.
Buehler praised the vote, noting that the measure would "not only ... reduce unintended pregnancies and improve women's health, but studies have shown that easy access to birth control is an important factor in reducing poverty as well." He said, "Clearly, this is what is best for women's health in the 21st century."
Meanwhile, the Oregon Catholic Conference said it opposed the measure because it would expand contraceptive access (AP/KTVZ, 6/18).