A South Carolina invoice that would allow women to access birth control pills without a doctor’s prescription is running out of time before the end of the state legislative session. While the bill passed the South Carolina Senate unanimously, there are only seven legislative days left to pass the bill in the House.
The Pharmacy Access Act would allow women over the age of 18 to receive birth control pills or other hormonal contraceptives from a pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription. The bill also allows pharmacists to dispense the drug to women under 18, provided they can show proof of a previous birth control prescription. The bill does not oblige pharmacists to dispense the drugs.
The Pharmacy Access Act is a reasonable step forward in giving women more autonomy in their medical choices. Birth control pills have been proven safe and efficient. In reality, 19 US states and the District of Columbia already allow pharmacists to dispense hormonal contraceptives without a doctor’s prescription. In addition, for the few women for whom hormonal contraceptives pose a health risk, the bill requires women to complete a risk assessment form, ensuring that those with blood clots or high blood pressure not controlled will not be mistakenly given potentially harmful drugs.
While birth control pills are both safe and easy to use, in 31 states women looking to take them — for everything from birth control to painful menstrual symptoms to acne problems — have to call to a doctor as an expensive and time-consuming intermediary. . Uninsured women may not be able to afford this expense, while women living in rural areas often face the hurdle of finding a reasonably nearby doctor with available appointments. Pharmacies, on the other hand, are numerous and do not require an appointment.
One of the bill’s fiercest defenders, Rep. Russell Ott (D–St. Matthews) took a different approach to defending the bill. Ott argues that the bill will reduce abortions in South Carolina: “If we want to take the reduction of abortions seriously, if we want to reduce the number of unwanted or unplanned pregnancies, we must take concrete measures.” Like him continued during a subcommittee meeting on the bill, “It’s about trying to ensure that women have more opportunities to access contraceptives than they currently do.”
This bill is therefore an interesting response to a world in which women are increasingly unable to access abortion. Especially with Roe vs. Wade perhaps on the Supreme Court’s chopping block, increasing women’s ability to prevent pregnancy is a surprisingly helpful solution from a state whose legislature has introduced a invoice outright ban on abortion earlier this year. In a future where abortion is illegal throughout red America, increased access to contraceptives may become increasingly important.
The measure has broad support in South Carolina. Dawn Bingham, Columbia Area OB-GYN physician, address fear that the bill will make women less likely to go to the doctor for important screenings, stating in a discussion of the bill that “cervical cancer screenings are actually not recommended every year for most women. It’s actually 3-5 years for most women.”
While the bill passed unanimously in the Senate and passed a House subcommittee with just one opposition vote, the bill’s chances of passing diminish as the session progresses. legislation is coming to an end.
However, supporters of the bill remain optimistic. As Senator Tom Davis (R – Beaufort) mentioned: “Even upstate social conservatives realize that what we’re talking about here is avoiding unwanted pregnancies, which will reduce the number of abortions in South Carolina.”