Last week we updated you on the archaic and absurd executive order that would permit employers to deny women birth control via health care insurance, all under the guise of religious freedom. Yes – that was definitely a low point and still is.
However, when there’s a will – there’s a way, and the brilliant folks at the New Mexico Pharmacists Association, the ACLU of New Mexico, and Young Women United have found a way to make accessing birth control a lot easier.
This new and brilliant protocol allows pharmacists to write prescriptions for hormonal contraceptives, allowing women with limited access to doctors to more easily get birth control.
We would be remiss if we did not acknowledge that this plan was not created overnight – our friends and partners have been working on this for years, and we are so thankful to each and every person that helped bring this into fruition.
The reality is that all women need access to information and options that allow them to prevent, plan, and space their pregnancies. Access to family planning has well-documented health, social, and economic benefits for mothers, newborns, families, and communities. Allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception has the potential to expand access and reduce barriers to contraception. Often, we forget that not every New Mexican is in the metro area. Many women in rural areas of our state have more barriers accessing birth control than we can imagine. Many individuals seeking contraception experience challenges associated with obtaining a prescription from a provider with prescriptive authority.
Here in New Mexico, we are facing extreme health care provider shortages, with particular access issues in rural communities. But pharmacists are available without appointment and are often located in places where providers with prescriptive authority are not.
Earlier this year a local pharamacist came under fire for not prescribing birth control to a teen:
Barriers such as transportation and work schedules often make it difficult for individuals to attend multiple medical appointments. Direct pharmacy access could safely help to minimize these barriers for some individuals by eliminating the need for an additional appointment to obtain a contraceptive prescription.
Pharmacist prescribing could help to reduce gaps in contraceptive use and the increased risk of pregnancy associated with running out of refills. The protocol would prohibit pharmacists from prescribing hormonal contraception to individuals that do have medical risk factors and require them to refer those individuals to a primary care provider or local clinic for complete evaluation.