Over-The-Counter Birth Control For California Could Be Just A Few Months Away

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — California will soon follow Oregon’s lead and provide birth control pills over the counter.

California’s law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2013, but the state board of pharmacy says it likely won’t go into effect until March 1.

Laura Lee Brennan says new California law is fast-tracking her talk about the birds and the bees with her 10-year-old daughter.

“It’s definitely not a decision to be taken lightly. And most importantly to me, is you know, that we have communication and we make a decision together,” she said.

Hormonal birth control including pills, patches, and a shot are expected to be available to women directly from a pharmacist in two months.

“I can see it both ways,” said Sacramento resident Taryn Prince. “I think it’s a good idea for women who don’t have access – I guess – to doctors or with a healthcare literacy. But I think over-the-counter anything is a little bit dangerous in the wrong hands.”

Unlike Oregon’s law, there is no age restriction on this option and women have to fill out a health questionnaire documenting things like cigarette use, pregnancy, and breast cancer history.

“From the basis of those answers the practitioner—in this case the pharmacist—can make a recommendation for what would be a good form of birth control for the individual,” said board of pharmacy spokeswoman Virginia Herald.

Oregon’s law requires women to be over 18 and does not offer the hormonal shot.

“A pharmacist is not required to provide contraception. They can have a conscientious objection to it,” Herald said. “California law generally provides that a pharmacy that doesn’t provide a particular drug has to provide some type of alternative in terms of referral to someone.”

While birth control advocates say the new resource provides another choice for women and helps pharmacists play a broader role in health care, Laurea Lee admits it will take some time and dialogue before she feels comfortable with the access it allows.

“We always talk about it in the context, what’s right for our family,” she said.

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