Alyssa Sutton

Since 2015, Oregon legislators have been working to make birth contraceptives more accessible for women. House Bill 2879 was passed in 2015, permitting pharmacists to prescribe contraceptive patches and pills.

More recently Oregon House Bill 2527 was passed in February, which expanded the previous bill to include injectable hormonal contraceptives and self-administered contraceptives. Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who’s running against Gov. Kate Brown in the general election and is also a physician, introduced the amendment that would make birth control more accessible –– in theory.

The bill attempted to address the lack of insurance coverage when receiving such a service –– stating a prescription drug coverage plan would cover the costs of contraceptives –– but because of how it was written, the coverage has not yet started. Additionally, the Department of Consumers and Business Services indicated that they do not have authority to regulate coverage.

The implementation across Oregon has been slow. It is voluntary for pharmacists to opt-in to provide the service as they must complete a required $250 online training developed in collaboration with the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Board of Pharmacy in order to write contraceptive prescriptions.

While allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives would remove what may seem like an unnecessary hurdle –– a doctor’s visit –– it may have created another burden.

Pharmacists have been knowledgeable in counseling women on the side effects and what to expect from hormonal contraceptives before the change in legislation. They now have the ability to prescribe contraceptives after completing a five-hour course.

See complete story in Friday's Observer