Calif. Gov. Brown Signs Bill on Access to Contraception

September 24, 2012 — California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) on Saturday signed 25 health related bills, including one bill allowing registered nurses to dispense contraceptives, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The contraception-dispensing bill (AB 2348) establishes a standardized procedure under which RNs can dispense hormonal contraceptives. The bill, introduced by Assembly member Holly Mitchell (D), "also allows RNs to dispense drugs and devices upon an order by a certified nurse-midwife, a nurse practitioner or a physician assistant while functioning within specified clinic settings," according to the governor's office. The law takes effect Jan. 1.

Brown called the bill a reaffirmation of "every woman's basic constitutional rights" (McGreevy/Bloomekatz, Los Angeles Times, 9/23). He added, "Instead of shrinking back and trying to take away women's health care services or birth control, we're empowering women, and we do it proudly" (Smith, Sacramento Bee, 9/24).

Mitchell said the bill would ease access to birth control for women in rural areas with shortages of health care providers. Kathy Kneer -- president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California -- said, "By using RNs to the full ability of their training, ... we're freeing up space for women who have higher risk conditions to see a nurse practitioner or physician" (Abdollah, KPCC, 9/22).

The bill is opposed by the California Nurses Association, which said it could lead to decreases in care quality for low-income women (Sacramento Bee, 9/24).