The following comes from an April 10 Daily Trojan article by Danny Helms:
The USC Pharmacy will now have the option to offer birth control following the implementation of the new California Birth Control Law, which went into effect Friday.
The law allows pharmacists to offer birth control products, such as pills, shots, skin patches and vaginal rings, to women without a prescription from a doctor. While the law does not allow pharmacists to supply these products over the counter, women can obtain them after completing a screening questionnaire on their medical history and consulting with a pharmacist.
The statute does not mandate pharmacies to provide birth control prescriptions. A similar law that was passed in Oregon took effect in January, but their law restricts use by women under age 18, whereas the California law extends to women of all ages. Similarly, there is not an age requirement when requesting birth control from a doctor.
Many states have sought increased birth control access, based on the consistently high rates of unintended pregnancy. Patrick Whelan, faculty at Keck School of Medicine, responded to a recent study at the Washington University in St. Louis School of Medicine indicating effective contraception reduces unplanned pregnancies and abortions.
“Roughly 50 percent of pregnancies in the United States are unintended, thus occurring in women who are not using contraception or are irregularly using contraception,” Whelan said in an email to the Daily Trojan.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists not only oppose the law, but also seek to create a model explicitly derailing the new law. They have questioned the effectiveness of these laws in California and Oregon, arguing the laws merely replace the barrier of visiting the doctor with another.
“It’s a little paternalistic to hold their birth control hostage,” said Kathleen Besinque, USC’s clinical pharmacy professor, to the Los Angeles Times.
In conjunction with the opposition it has undergone from medical associations, religion has surfaced in the discussion of birth control policy. A recent Supreme Court case addressed religious objections to the Affordable Care Act requirement that employers ensure coverage for contraception to all their female workers.
“Religious leaders will increasingly have to answer the question of how they can be opposed to birth control use when it directly leads to fewer abortions,” said Whelan, who is also a board member for the Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies at USC.