New California Birth Control Prescription Law to Take Effect in April

Published on March 21st, 2016

California Legislature passes bill to help stabilize population.

California’s Senate Bill 493, passed in 2013, authorizes state pharmacists to distribute hormonal contraception to patients assuming they follow statewide protocol. By mid-April, pharmacists will have full authority to distribute contraception.

The protocol includes the patient submitting a self-assessment form to the pharmacist for review. The pharmacist evaluates the applicant’s overall health, her need for birth control and which product would best suit her needs, and then must advise her primary care provider. These guidelines are based on current U.S. Medical Eligibility Criteria for Contraceptives which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention developed.

Unlike neighboring Oregon where females must be age 18 or older, the California law has no age requirement. Washington and the District of Columbia have similar laws, and the Tennessee State Senate recently passed a comparable bill.

Arguing in defense of Tennessee’s bill, Dr. Steve Dickerson, who is also a state senator, said about half of all pregnancies are unintended or mistimed, and that the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, among other medical organizations, supports efforts to provide easier access to birth control. Dickerson concluded: “The science is very strongly behind this.”

The U.S. is the world’s third most populous country behind China and India (see CAPS’ Population Page) at 323 million, with California’s population accounting for nearly 39 million of that – and neither the country nor California are headed to stable numbers any time soon. Prudent, safe measures to help women who want convenient access to birth control help stabilize population and ensure a better future for all Americans.

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