Bill would let Hawaii pharmacists prescribe birth control

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers introduced legislation that would make it easier for adult women in Hawaii to get birth control.

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HONOLULU (AP) — Hawaii lawmakers introduced legislation that would make it easier for adult women in Hawaii to get birth control.

Right now, women can only get certain contraceptives through a physician. If passed, the bill would allow women older than 18 to get hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills, patches and rings directly from pharmacists without having to visit a doctor.

Both the Hawaii Senate and House introduced versions of the bill, which would require pharmacists to go through training to be able to prescribe contraceptives.

Pharmacists would also have to provide patients with a self-screening checklist that would help to identify what kind of contraceptive to use. Pharmacists would have to refer patients to their primary care provider or recommend they go see one after getting the prescription.

The bill would also require health insurance companies to reimburse pharmacists who prescribe and dispense birth control.

Democratic Rep. Cindy Evans, who co-introduced the bill, said it aims to help college-aged women who might have busy schedules and limited transportation that would prevent them from re-filling a prescription at a doctor’s office. Getting birth control over-the-counter could also be easier for women in rural areas, she added.

“I do think a lot of young people — the ones that are at college-age — really see this as making it readily available to them,” said Evans.

The law would help women avoid unintended pregnancies, Evans said. About half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year aren’t planned, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

But some worry about the potential health risks of being prescribed a hormonal medication without seeing a physician first.

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“I support a woman’s right if she wants to use birth control to do it, but she should see a doctor first,” said Republican Rep. Bob McDermott.

California and Oregon have passed similar laws. Supporters of the bill say obtaining birth control from pharmacists could be more convenient and potentially cheaper than seeing a primary care physician.

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