SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - Women in California can now get birth control directly from a pharmacist without a prescription from their doctor.
A law that allows California pharmacists to directly provide prescription contraceptives went into effect Friday.
The new law gives pharmacists the ability to dispense hormonal contraceptives that women can administer themselves, including transdermal, vaginal and injection prescription birth control methods, the San Jose Mercury News reported (http://bayareane.ws/1S9ooNE).
But it's not a simple over-the counter process. Women requesting birth control will have to complete a health questionnaire, and a pharmacist will also consult with the patient about the most suitable form of birth control.
If the contraceptive requested poses a high blood pressure risk, the woman's blood pressure must be taken before a prescription is issued.
Women still need to see a doctor to get an IUD or a contraceptive implant since they require a medical procedure to be administered.
"Community pharmacies are the face of neighborhood health care -- open beyond normal business hours, and patients do not need an appointment to see their pharmacist," said Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, which sponsored the original legislation on behalf of the state's 6,500 community pharmacies. "That means pharmacists providing contraception will go a long way to expand women's birth control."
California joined Oregon as the only states that allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control.
Critics say the new law sends the wrong message to teenage girls by allowing them to more easily get contraceptives.
"They say it's for women, but they mean anyone," including teenage girls, California Right to Life spokeswoman Camille Giglio said.
"The ability to get contraceptives from yet another source is not a benefit to young people," she added. "It is a barrier to communication between a mother and a child."
Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com