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April 19, 2016

Pharmacist-Prescribed Birth Control in Oregon and Other States

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Health Administration and Policy, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia
  • 2Division of Health Policy and Management, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, Minneapolis
  • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland
JAMA. 2016;315(15):1567-1568. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.2327

In Oregon, a new law took effect on January 1, 2016, allowing women 18 years or older to obtain hormonal contraception directly from pharmacies, without having to visit a physician or other prescribing clinician (eg, nurse practitioner, physician assistant, midwife).1 California will follow Oregon later in 2016, having already passed similar legislation.2 Colorado, Washington, and New Mexico are considering similar bills as well.2 These new laws decrease some access barriers to contraception, thereby potentially reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies and abortions. Yet the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and others contend that the new law does not go far enough, leaving an unnecessary barrier between women and contraceptive access.2 In this Viewpoint, we evaluate the new legislation, the views of supporters and opponents, and the potential implications for contraceptive access in the United States, which still has a substantially high rate of unintended pregnancies (49%3 vs 41% worldwide4).

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