Bill could improve women’s access to birth control by allowing pharmacists to prescribe

Government programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptive coverage to low-income women...
Government programs that provide free or subsidized contraceptive coverage to low-income women will continue. (Source: CNN)(Source: CNN)
Updated: Apr. 23, 2021 at 6:19 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - There has been some progress in efforts to improve women’s access to birth control in South Carolina. Senate bill 0628, the “Pharmacy Access Act,” would allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense contraceptives.

“A lot of women, particularly those in rural areas, don’t have immediate access to a physician, and that should not be a reason to deny or preclude a woman from receiving contraception,” Senator Tom Davis said.

The bill was born out of the debate over the fetal heartbeat abortion bill.

“We want to avoid unintended pregnancies, and we want to avoid a woman facing that horrible decision about whether or not to have the abortion or have the child,” Davis said.

The CEO of the South Carolina Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network said the bill will make it cheaper and easier for women to get birth control, and it’s modeled after similar legislation that’s already been approved in 13 other states and Washington D.C.

“It will help really anybody in South Carolina, but certainly in rural areas, where transportation can be an issue and access to a doctor can be an issue. We have a number of counties that don’t even have an OB/GYN available, and those folks have to travel extra distances to go see a doctor and then go to their pharmacist. This will really eliminate the need for that extra step,” Ann Warner said. “We all live busy, complicated lives, and we can all use a little help in reducing the unnecessary steps we have to take to access medication that’s so safe and effective.”

The South Carolina Senate approved the third reading of the bill unanimously, and it’s now in the hands of the House of Representatives.

Davis said he’s optimistic it will make it to the governor’s desk.

“Even social conservatives in the Upstate realize what we are talking about here is avoiding unintended pregnancies, which is going to reduce the number of abortions in South Carolina,” Davis said.

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