National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Ore. Senate, House Advance Measures To Improve Contraceptive Access

Ore. Senate, House Advance Measures To Improve Contraceptive Access

June 4, 2015 — The Oregon Senate on Tuesday unanimously voted to approve a bill (HB 3343) that would require insurers to cover a 12 months' supply of contraception at a time, KMTR News reports.

The bill now heads to Gov. Kate Brown (D). According to KMTR News, if Brown signs the measure, the state would become the first in the U.S. in which insurers must cover one year's worth of contraception in a single batch.


Mary Nolan, interim executive director at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, called the measure "the most significant leap forward for reducing unintended pregnancies in a generation." According to KMTR News, PPAO has noted that providing birth control in a 12-month supply, compared with 30- or 90-day supplies, is linked to a 30% reduction in the risk of unintended pregnancy.

Meanwhile, state Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D) said, "Ensuring that women have access to 12 continuous months of birth control will improve consistent use and better serve women juggling demanding schedules" (KMTR News, 6/2).

Ore. House Advances Contraception Prescribing Measure

In related news, the Oregon House on Tuesday voted 50-10 to advance a bill (HB 2879) that would permit women to obtain contraception without a prescription from a physician, The Oregonian reports (Theriault, The Oregonian, 6/2).

Legislation Details

The measure would authorize pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control directly to women.

State Rep. Knute Buehler (R), who introduced the legislation, initially proposed it as an amendment (HB 2028-5) to a bill (HB 2028) that addressed pharmacists' scope of practice. However, the proposal was rejected, and the measure was assigned to a workgroup (Women's Health Policy Report, 5/29). According to The Oregonian, the legislation was brought back as HB 2879, which previously served as a placeholder bill.

The latest version of the measure includes two substantive revisions from Buehler's original legislation. Under the new version, a pharmacist can prescribe birth control to a woman under age 18 if contraception previously has been prescribed to her by a traditional provider. In addition, the revised version does not include language that explicitly permits pharmacists to cite religious or ethical objections for refusing to fill a prescription. Pharmacists in Oregon already have such rights under the state's general pharmacy rules, Buehler noted.

Buehler said, "As a doctor, I think birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible." He added, "It makes no sense that men have unrestrained access to contraception" while women do not (The Oregonian, 6/2).