Birth control without prescription now available in NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Women in North Carolina are now able to obtain birth control pills and patches at a pharmacy without a prescription, thanks to a new legal provision that took effect Tuesday.

North Carolina joins more than a dozen states that don’t require the signature of a patient’s doctor to receive such hormonal birth control, according to the The News & Observer of Raleigh, which first reported on the provision taking effect.

The change was contained in a broader law that expanded the dispensing power of pharmacists who are also trained to administer immunizations. It was approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly and signed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper over the summer.

“If somebody decides that they need contraception today, spur of the moment, then they can access that and then that gives them time to explore other care options that may be available to them if they’re looking for another type of contraception,” said Dr. Velma Taormina, president of the North Carolina Obstetrical and Gynecological Society.

Sen. Jim Burgin, a Harnett County Republican who championed the bill, said the new law could prevent abortions in North Carolina.

“What can we do to prevent people from ever having to make that decision?” Burgin asked. “And so the best way to do that is to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.”

Emergency contraceptives, such as the morning-after pill, were already available over the counter and without a prescription.

The new measure also expands vaccines and medications that an “immunizing pharmacist” can administer, such as nicotine replacement therapy, prenatal vitamins, and certain medicine to prevent HIV after a possible exposure.