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Ore. Senate OKs Buehler bill to expand birth control access


The Oregon Senate voted 24-4 Wednesday to allow women to purchase birth control without a doctor’s visit, a proposal introduced by Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend.

Buehler, an orthopedic surgeon from Bend, introduced the measure earlier this session and led the bipartisan work group assigned to the concept.

“We have the opportunity to remove one of the most substantial barriers to contraceptive access for women – a doctor’s prescription,” said Buehler. “Oregon is one step closer to becoming the easiest place in the nation for women to access birth control.”

The legislation (HB 2879) would allow birth control to be sold behind the counter at local pharmacies without a physician visit and prescription.

The Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Board of Pharmacists would be responsible for structuring rules to ensure safe prescribing by pharmacists – including brief training for pharmacists, a self-screening test for contraindications, and notifying the customer’s primary care provider.

The contraceptives would still be covered by insurance, which is important to lower costs for consumers.

“It makes no sense that men should have unrestricted access to contraceptives, while women must first get a prescription from their physician,” Buehler said. “As a doctor, I believe birth control should be as easy and accessible as possible. If a woman wants to purchase birth control at her local pharmacy, she should be able to do that without having to schedule an appointment with a doctor.”

HB 2879 has been approved by both the House and the Senate. It now goes back to the House to approve the changes made in the Senate.

If passed, Oregon would be the second state in the nation to pass such legislation, along with California. Since California has yet to develop their administrative rules around the change, Oregon could become the first in the country to implement this historic expansion of access, Buehler said.

Some critics have raised concerns contraceptives can have adverse side effects. But advocates say the risks of pregnancy are greater than the risks of taking oral contraceptives.

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