Women in Oregon will now be able to get birth control pills without a prescription, thanks to a groundbreaking state law that will take effect later this year.
Women who wish to obtain birth control without a doctor’s orders will be required to fill out a health questionnaire that would be examined by pharmacists who will determine whether the women should receive the pills. Pharmacists must first undergo specific training before they will be allowed to give birth control pills to women without prescriptions.
Lawmakers have argued that requiring women to see a doctor in order to get a prescription for birth control pills is an obstacle for some women. The new law, which is not without controversy, will make this process easier for women. California lawmakers are expected to pass a similar bill soon to allow pharmacists to give women birth control pills without prescriptions.
One challenge to making birth control pills more readily available is that more women will need to be made aware of the side effects associated with the hormonal contraceptives. Birth control pills increase the risk of blood clots, which can be fatal.
In August, Bayer Corp. announced it would pay $57 million to resolve about 1,200 federal and state lawsuits involving its birth control pills Yaz, Yasmin and Ocella. The lawsuits alleged the pills caused blood clots that led to heart attacks and strokes. The drug company had already paid about $2 billion to settle Yaz side effects claims alleging the contraceptives caused blood clots that resulted in pulmonary embolisms and deep vein thrombosis.