This month California state officials announced that women of any age can obtain birth control pills from any pharmacy without a prescription. Women would only have to complete a questionnaire and speak to a pharmacist to get birth control.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the law covers self-administered birth control methods, i.e. birth control pills, patches, injections and vaginal rings. California has now become one of the three states — after Oregon and Washington — to allow women to do this.
What does The Campanil think about all of this?
First of all, we felt that this new law is a positive thing for women. It increases accessibility, allows women to take more control over their reproductive health, and could stop unwanted pregnancies. This law could be great for undocumented women and women who would like/need to keep their choices covert.
It also helps women who are not using contraceptives as an only means for reproductive health. Women also use birth control to relieve things such as cramps during menstruation, endometriosis (a disorder in which the tissue that lines the inside of your uterus is found outside of your uterus) and even anxiety and depression.
We also felt that this law could help women who need options like Plan B, a type of emergency contraception that helps prevent pregnancy when taken within 72 hours (3 days) after unprotected sex or birth control failure. There have been cases where pharmacists ask for a prescription when that should not even happen in the first place. Overall, we feel like this law will help destigmatize birth control in society.
However we also question that accessibility. There are only so many questions that pharmacists can answer, even through a questionnaire; there could be health risks for others that one may need to see a doctor for before even obtaining birth control.
The Campanil also wonders about those who do not have the means or ability to get birth control. While we feel that the accessibility is important, we still thought about the cost of birth control. According to ABC7 News, there is still an uncertainty whether “pharmacists will charge for screening patients and dispensing the birth control.” At the same time, the measure also shows that if a person’s insurance plan pays for birth control, contraceptives should be covered. What about women who are uninsured?
According to Planned Parenthood, birth control pills range as much as $50 a month without insurance. Patches and rings cost up to $80 a month, and the shot costs about $100 plus exam fees. There could still be women who could not be able to afford that, whether as a consistent regimen or just occasionally.
While we felt that this new law is a great idea, it still has a long way to go. The law is taking a great step in giving women more agency over their reproductive health; we hope that it could lead to more affordable birth control.