Oregon becomes first state to offer birth control without a prescription

Oregon has become the first state to offer birth control over the counter.
Oregon has become the first state to offer birth control over the counter.

HealthDay News — Oregon has become the first state to allow women to obtain birth control without a doctor's prescription.

The new law was signed last July by Gov. Kate Brown and took effect Jan. 1. California plans to do the same and U.S. senators in Colorado and Washington have both introduced versions of Oregon's new law, according to KOIN television station in Portland.

In Oregon, women 18 and older can go into a pharmacy and complete a special health questionnaire. If everything is in order, the pharmacists will give them a prescription for birth control. Women younger than 18 still require a doctor's prescription, but that requirement will be removed within a few years, according to the news report. A pharmacist can refuse to prescribe birth control for religious reasons, but must refer the patient somewhere else.

"Just having birth control accessible through a pharmacist doesn't mean preventative health care isn't important. That's not what this law is saying," said Alison Edelman, MD, MPH, of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, according to KOIN. The new law allows "increased access to women for something that's incredibly safe and a really big need for women," Edelman added.

For more information, visit HealthDay's Health Highlights.

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