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Lawmakers consider proposal to expand birth control access

March 20, 2022 GMT

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Lawmakers in Rhode Island are considering a proposal to allow pharmacists to give people birth control without authorization from a doctor.

Rhode Island’s House of Representatives approved a bill last week that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control. The measure is now under consideration in the Senate, where similar legislation has been introduced.

In about a dozen states and Washington, D.C., lawmakers have passed new laws to allow pharmacists to provide hormonal contraceptives. North Carolina was one of the most recent. A new legal provision took effect there Feb. 1 to allow women to obtain birth control pills and patches at a pharmacy without a prescription from a doctor.

Rep. Camille Vella-Wilkinson introduced the bill in the Rhode Island House to authorize a pharmacist to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives, provided they complete a training program approved by the state.

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The Warwick Democrat said taking time off work, finding transportation to a clinic and paying for a doctor’s visit is a lot of work to get birth control. She said she thinks the change could lead to a decrease in abortion rates.

“Pharmacist-prescribed birth control would improve the quality of life for so many women, which is an important goal of our evolving health care system,” she said in a statement.