Calif. Should Approve Bill Expanding Access to Contraception, Opinion Piece States

May 23, 2012 — California lawmakers "have a real opportunity to buck the alarming national trend of making health care harder to get for women" by supporting a bill (AB 2348) that would increase access to birth control for women in the state, Kathy Kneer -- president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California -- and Julie Rabinovitz -- president and CEO of California Family Health Council -- write in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece.

The bill, introduced by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D), would authorize registered nurses in community clinics to dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills and patches.

Despite California's network of family planning providers, thousands of women in the state lack access to birth control, and many areas lack "adequate staff to meet the need -- particularly in this economy with more people without health insurance looking to safety-net providers for care," according to Kneer and Rabinovitz. They cite a 2009 Public Policy Institute of California report that found that 89% of state residents support increased access to contraception.

"By passing this common-sense law, California will continue to be a leader in preventing unintended pregnancy and can remind the rest of the nation that the war on women stops here," Kneer and Rabinovitz write. They note that many leading medical organizations, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have developed guidelines for providing hormonal contraceptives "that are well within the skills, training and scope of practice of RNs" (Kneer/Rabinovitz, Sacramento Bee, 5/22).