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Expanded birth control access still a work in progress


State Rep Knute Buehler, a Bend physician, convinced fellow lawmakers to pass a bill making sure women can receive the birth control they need, without the hassle.

“It’s a hassle factor, as opposed to this you just drive to Costco, you get a checklist for safety and you get your prescription,” Buehler said Wednesday.

But the new law is still being fully implemented.

Buehler worked to pass a law in the 2015 legislative session allowing women to receive birth control over the counter, without a prescription.

But not all pharmacies across the state have implemented that access.

“This is groundbreaking legislation. It’s never been done anywhere before in the U.S., so it takes a while for them to come on board,” Buehler said.

” It’s only been a law since Jan. 1,, so remember they have to implement and get them trained, so right now every major pharmacy has embraced it and is ready to go.”

Buehler said 40 percent of pharmacists in the state have completed the program since Jan. 1.

John Miller, manager of Community Pharmacy at St. Charles Bend, said their pharmacists have not been trained because there is simply no demand for it.

“We’re certainly interested in training. Again, it’s about the demand, space (for) privacy and such. We would like to have more space to do that.”

In order to receive over-the-counter birth control, women must complete a self-assessment. Buehler said that is to insure that women are given the safest care.

“The important thing is safety, and one of the reasons we can’t make it completely over-the-counter in my opinion is that women need a checklist for safety,” Buehler said. “And we have also developed that checklist and have the pharmacist become familiar with it.”

Buehler said he is hoping this bill will help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and help give women the access to contraception that they need.

“Most importantly, it’s about what is best for women’s’ health in 2016,” the lawmaker said.

Buehler added he’s working on a proposal for the 2017 legislative session to expand the types of birth control available to women over the counter.

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