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Ore. Creates Workgroup To Discuss Birth Control Access Measure

Ore. Creates Workgroup To Discuss Birth Control Access Measure

April 21, 2015 — An Oregon House committee on Friday rejected an amendment that would allow women to obtain hormonal contraception from a pharmacist without a prescription and assigned the proposal to a workgroup, the Mid-Valley Statesman Journal reports (Yoo, Mid-Valley Statesman Journal, 4/18).

Amendment Details

The amendment, proposed by state Rep. Knute Buehler (R), was attached to a bill (HB 2028) that addressed pharmacists' scope of practice (Theriault, Oregonian, 4/15). The panel passed the underlying bill, which now proceeds to the full state House for consideration (Mid-Valley Statesman Journal, 4/18).

If approved, the amendment would make the underlying bill resemble a law passed in California that, among other provisions, permits pharmacists to dispense hormonal contraceptives. Beuhler said that the proposal technically would allow pharmacists to prescribe such contraceptives and that birth control prescribed under the proposed rules would be covered by insurance.

Under the proposal, a woman would have to be at least 18 to receive contraception without a prescription, a requirement not mentioned in the California law, according to the Bend Bulletin (Anderson, Bend Bulletin, 4/18). In addition, pharmacists would be required to give consumers a "self-screening risk assessment tool" before giving a prescription.

Further, according to the Oregonian, the proposal would let pharmacists "choose not to prescribe and dispense" birth control pills "for ethical, moral or religious reasons" (Oregonian, 4/15).

Workgroup Details

Buehler will head the workgroup with House Democratic Leader Val Hoyle.

Buehler said he hopes the workgroup will assess the proposal in time to include it with the underlying bill when that measure is considered by the state Senate. However, he said if the workgroup does not complete its report by that deadline, it will do so in time for the February 2016 short session (Mid-Valley Statesman Journal, 4/18).

Comments

Laura Terrill Patten, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, said that PPAO "is committed to advancing legislation that promotes full access to birth control methods -- without barriers based on cost, availability and other factors," but that the organization has "concerns about the way this amendment is currently drafted and its implementation."

Meanwhile, Kate Conners, a spokesperson with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the organization "want[s] to make sure that any efforts to make oral contraceptives available over the counter" ensure that the contraceptives remain covered at no cost by insurers (Bend Bulletin, 4/18).