Oregon legislature supports easier access to birth control

Two history-making bills move forward.

Share this article!


The Oregon legislature moves forward with two game changing birth control bills.

House Bill 3343 would mandate health insurance providers to cover 12-month-long birth control prescriptions, while House Bill 2879 would give women access to birth control directly from a pharmacist instead of requiring a doctor’s prescription.

HB 3343 passed the Senate and will head to Gov. Kate Brown to be signed into law. HB 2879 passed the House and will head to the Senate.

Sen. Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton) said in a news release: “Prescriptive contraceptives are highly effective and an important part of family planning for many Oregonians, but they need to be used consistently. Ensuring that women have access to 12 continuous months of birth control will improve consistent use and better serve women juggling demanding schedules.”

From the Statesman Journal:

If it passes, Oregon would be the first state to ensure women have access to a full year of contraceptives, according to the Senate Democrats’ office.

HB 2879 was a concept developed by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, who led a work group in hopes of allowing pharmacists to prescribe and dispense birth control without requiring the patient making an appointment or seeing her doctor first. The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Board of Pharmacists would create the rules and protocols, including training, a self-screening test and notifying the patient’s primary care provider.

Buehler said in a statement: “It makes no sense that men should have unrestricted access to contraceptives, while women must first get a prescription from their physician. As a doctor, I believe birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible. If a woman wants to purchase birth control at her local pharmacy, she should be able to do that without having to schedule an appointment with a doctor.”

The Bend Bulletin reported on the opposition of the bill:

Nine Republicans joined by one Democrat, Rep. Betty Komp of Woodburn, voted against the pharmacy bill. One of those Republicans, Rep. Gail Whitsett of Klamath Falls, said research showed some contraceptives increase the risk of fatal blood clots. The others didn’t publicly raise concerns over the bill. Kate Connors, a spokeswoman with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said the risk of blood clots is greater in women who use hormonal contraceptives than those who don’t. But she said the risk of blood clots by hormonal birth control users is lower than that in pregnant and postpartum women.

“Preventing pregnancy in women at risk is still a better approach than not preventing pregnancy,” Connors said.