As of Jan. 1, Oregon became the first US state to make birth control pills available over the counter. California will follow suit in March, meaning that soon, more than one-eighth of America’s female population will no longer need a doctor’s prescription to get oral contraceptives.
The new laws require women in both states (18 and over in Oregon, any age in California) to fill out a health questionnaire at the pharmacy. If their answers raise no red flags, they can purchase the Pill as they would any other over-the-counter drug.
Similar bills also have been introduced in Washington and Colorado.
A one-month supply of oral contraceptives typically costs between $15 and $50 without insurance or other subsidies. Under existing Oregon law, pharmacists can refuse to dispense the drug for religious reasons or other personal objections, but must refer women to another provider who will.
Doctors welcomed the move to make birth control pills available over the counter, but cautioned that pharmacy visits shouldn’t completely replace clinical visits and preventative screenings for reproductive diseases like cervical cancer and HPV.