Women in California now have easier access to contraceptives

by Sydney Sweeney, Staff Columnist

It’s nothing but good news for women in California who want easier access to birth control.

As of April 1, women of all ages no longer need to visit a physician to get the pill, patch or ring. Instead, they can visit a local pharmacy and pick up their preferred contraception without a prescription.

Similar legislation took effect in Oregon at the start of 2016 there, recipients must be age 18 or older. And women in Washington state have picked up their prescription-free contraceptives from local pharmacies for over 30 years now.

But this is not to say that such laws disregard the health and safety of the birth control recipients.

This new method of distributing contraceptives is not over the counter, and pharmacists must follow a procedure when issuing the drugs.

Potential recipients must speak directly with a pharmacist and fill out a health questionnaire comparable to the sort of patient surveys used in a traditional physician’s office.

A customer’s blood pressure is taken, and pharmacists must confirm that the customer is appropriately trained in administration of the selected birth control.

The comprehensive process will ensure that recipients are prepared, fitting candidates for the chosen option.

With the measure’s recent implementation, medical professionals widely argue that more accessible birth control will prevent abortions and unintended pregnancies.

“The easier it is for someone to access medication, the more likely they are to use it,” said Sarah McBane, president of the California Pharmacists Association.

Certainly, the U.S.’s history with birth control largely validates McBane’s theory.

Consider the early decades of the 20th century, when women favored commercial douches for contraception, despite the fact that condoms and diaphragms more effectively prevented pregnancies.

Douches were unreliable and even dangerous—some caused inflammation, burning and death—but they were also conveniently cheap.

On the contrary, both condoms and diaphragms were pricey, and the latter required women to visit a physician, creating yet another hurdle against the prevention of unintended pregnancies.

Research conducted in 1933 revealed that nearly half of the 507 women who used douches as contraception still ended up pregnant.

Things are no different in today’s America, where women of all ages and incomes desire safe, effective birth control but may encounter difficulty obtaining it.

Teenage girls become pregnant from unprotected sex, too afraid to speak to their parents or doctors about the matter.

Women without health insurance cross southern borders to obtain over-the-counter birth control, but are less likely to take preventive health screening for the drugs.

Those who lack transportation to even a physician’s office or clinic are unable to obtain hormonal contraception at all.

This new measure seeks to help women overcome some tribulations that hinder their welfare, and California’s move is definitely a positive one in support of increasingly accessible health care and women’s reproductive rights.