Oregon Legislature passes birth control access bill

Gov. Kate Brown expected to sign a measure that makes contraceptives for women available without a prescription.

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The Oregon Senate passed a bill that will expand access to birth control for women.

HB 2879 is headed to Gov. Kate Brown, who is expected to sign the measure that allows women to get contraceptives from a pharmacist without a prescription.

“The risks of pregnancy are greater than the risks of taking oral contraceptives,” said Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) in a news release. “I am confident that through the self-assessment tool required in HB 2879, women will be able to identify risk factors and make safe choices. This bill will provide timely and convenient access for Oregon women, thus decreasing unintended pregnancies.”

The bill is the second to pass this session that expands birth control access. Earlier Brown signed into law a trailblazing piece of legislation that mandates insurance companies to pay for contraceptives when prescribed for 12 months, instead of more abbreviated periods.

“This session Oregon has led the nation in expanding access to birth control,” said Senate Majority Leader Diane Rosenbaum (D-Portland), in the same release. “After passing groundbreaking legislation allowing women to access a full year’s worth of birth control, this bill furthers the Oregon Legislature’s leadership in protecting women’s health.”

The bill will go back to the House for concurrence before heading to Brown for final passage. It passed the Senate with a 24-4 vote Wednesday. The program is expected to be active by the beginning of 2016.

Republicans have supported the birth control measures as Rep Knute Buehler (R-Bend) was credited with proposing the bill.

“I noticed the inconsistency of the fact that pharmacists can dispense emergency contraception, but they can’t dispense preventive contraception,” Buehler said in an interview. “It just seemed like something that was just not very rational.”

Democrats were caught off-guard by the proposal from a freshman legislator who was opposed by the conservative Oregon Right to Life and progressive Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon in his 2014 election effort.

(SOURCE: Bend Bulletin)

California is the only other state with a similar law on the books.


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