How Birth Control Could Soon Be Over-the-Counter in Oregon

On Wednesday, June 24, bipartisan legislation that would allow birth control pills and hormonal patches to be sold over the counter via on-demand pharmacy prescriptions cleared the Oregon Senate, with the bill just shy of heading to Gov. Kate Brown’s desk to be signed into law.

According to, House Bill 2879 passed the Senate with a 24-4 vote. As the Senate’s rules committee amended its age requirements, the bill will now head back to the House for a final vote before reaching the governor’s desk.

Under House Bill 2879, teens and women would be able to get birth control directly from a pharmacist without a doctor’s prescription. Rep. Knute Buehler, R-Bend, proposed the bill in order to make it as easy for women to obtain preventive contraception as it is to obtain emergency contraception.

“I noticed the inconsistency of the fact that pharmacists can dispense emergency contraception, but they can’t dispense preventive contraception,” Buehler said in an interview. “It just seemed like something that was just not very rational.”

In the bill’s original draft, girls younger than 18 would have been required to have at least one prior prescription from a doctor before getting a birth control prescription from a pharmacist. The Senate revised the bill so this provision will expire after four years in order to collect more data that shows birth control is safe for women of all ages.

Nearly every American woman of reproductive age has used birth control, the Guttmacher Institute reports, with 99% of sexually active women aged 15 through 44 having used at least one method of birth control. Currently, 16% of women in this age group use the birth control pill and 0.4% use a hormonal patch to prevent unwanted pregnancy. In 2010, doctors and pharmacies ordered or provided an incredible 2.6 billion prescriptions total to patients across the country for their myriad health conditions.

The revised bill is expected to pass the House and earn Brown’s signature without incident. The law will effectively give Oregonians the best access to birth control in the country, reported the Bend Bulletin.

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