Freeing The Pill
Maryland Women May Soon Get Oral Contraceptives Over-the-Counter
Reproductive health advocates in Maryland are applauding the General Assembly as they gave final approval Saturday to legislation that would allow women to obtain oral contraceptives over-the-counter (OTC).
In a 112-23 vote in the House of Delegates, the bill sponsored by Democratic Delegate Shelly Hettleman of Baltimore County, allows pharmacists to write the prescriptions themselves, by-passing a woman’s visit to a physician.
While opponents to the measure cite safety concerns, researchers and the American Congress of OB/GYN (ACOG) have taken the stance that oral contraceptives are safe enough to be dispensed without a physician prescription; and advocates have long argued that making the birth control pill OTC increases access to reproductive health.
The federal government has not approved oral contraceptives for OTC use, but if Governor Hogan signs the bill into law, Maryland would become the third state to offer the Pill OTC. Oregon and California already do.
The new law would not take effect until January 1, 2018, and the state would give the Board of Pharmacy until September 1, 2018 to write the regulations for the over-the-counter purchase; so there will still be a little wait to free the Pill.