Economic Opportunity, Health and Education, Policy Updates
Statement in Support of the Pharmacy Access Act (S.151/S.628)
by WREN Staff on Feb 25, 2021
Testimony presented to the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee on February 25, 2021.
Thank you, Chairman Davis, and members of the subcommittee, for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Ann Warner and I am the CEO of the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization with a mission to build a movement to advance the health, economic well-being, and rights of South Carolina’s women, girls, and their families.
On behalf of our organization, I am asking committee members to vote YES on S.151.
Having the ability to plan if, when, and under what circumstances to have a child is fundamental to living a healthy and empowered life. Contraception gives people the ability to prevent or delay pregnancies until they are ready to become parents, and is positively correlated with women’s increased educational attainment, workforce participation, and lifetime earnings (1). Family planning has important health benefits for mothers and babies — when the timing and spacing of pregnancies is planned, the pregnancies are healthier, and infants born are also more likely to be born with at a healthy birth weight (2) – a key indicator of overall health (3).
People in our state understand how crucial contraceptive access is to their wellbeing and that is why a public opinion poll conducted last year found that 90% of South Carolinians support increased access to contraception (4).
Contraception is widely used in the United States. More than 99% of women aged 15–44 who have ever had sexual intercourse have used at least one contraceptive method (5). Some 60% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method (6). Hormonal methods – such as the pill, the patch, the ring, or injectables – are the most common methods used in the United States.
While the use of contraceptives is widespread, there are still barriers to consistent and effective usage. About 50% of pregnancies in South Carolina are unintended (7). About 95% of unintended pregnancies occur in women who do not use contraception or who use it inconsistently or incorrectly (8). Barriers to consistent and effective contraceptive usage are particularly high for women who do not have a regular health care provider or health insurance, women who lack reliable access to transportation, and for people with complex schedules that make it difficult to plan multiple visits to doctors’ offices and pharmacies. Women living in rural areas and women with lower incomes face greater barriers to access and consistent usage (9).
“Pharmacy access” laws overcome many of these barriers. By authorizing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, we can eliminate the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription. Pharmacies are often more accessible and affordable than doctors’ offices. Pharmacist prescribing of contraceptives has been proven to be safe and effective (10).
Currently, 13 states and Washington, DC, allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control directly to consumers (11). A survey found that consumers chose to access contraception from their pharmacists because it was more timely and convenient than visiting a doctor’s office. Women receiving contraception from their pharmacists were highly satisfied (12).
The Pharmacy Access Act is a practical and safe way to meet people’s needs for contraception, reduce unintended pregnancies, and improve health and economic outcomes for moms, babies, and families in South Carolina. I urge you to vote YES on S.151. Thank you for your consideration.
Take Action To Support This Bill: https://p2a.co/PQCT9xz
S. 151 is now S.628, the language and meaning of the bill are the same. After the initial subcommittee meeting, the legislative council needed to make technical changes beyond what could be accomplished with an amendment. S.628 will be reintroduced and take the place of the previous bill. The full Senate Medical Affairs Committee will hear this bill on March 4, 2021 at 10 am.
- Guttmacher https://www.guttmacher.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/social-economic-benefits.pdf
- Copen C. E., Thoma M. E., Kirmeyer S. (2015). Interpregnancy Intervals in the United States: Data from the birth certificate and the National Survey of Family Growth. National Vital Statistics Reports. 2015; 64(3).
- McCormick M. C. (1985). The contribution of low birth weight to infant mortality and childhood morbidity. The New England journal of medicine, 312(2), 82–90. https://doi.org/10.1056/NEJM198501103120204
- Change Research, Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, & National Women’s Law Center. (2020, January). Our Voice 2020: Poll of Women and LGBTQ Likely Voters in SC. Retrieved from: http://bit.ly/OurVOICE2020
- Kavanaugh ML and Jerman J, Contraceptive method use in the United States: trends and characteristics between 2008 and 2014, Contraception, 2018, 97(1):14–21, doi:j.contraception.2017.10.003.
- Kost K, Unintended Pregnancy Rates at the State Level: Estimates for 2010 and Trends Since 2002, New York: Guttmacher Institute, 2015, https://www.guttmacher.org/report/unintended-pregnancy-rates-state-level-estimates-2010-and-trends-2002.
- America’s Health Rankings analysis of CDC, Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System or state equivalent, United Health Foundation, AmericasHealthRankings.org, Accessed 2021.
- Beyond the Numbers: Access to Reproductive Health Care for Low-Income Women in Five Communities – Executive Summary., Published: Nov 14, 2. (2019, December 05), Retrieved from https://www.kff.org/report-section/beyond-the-numbers-access-to-reproductive-health-care-for-low-income-women-in-five-communities-executive-summary/
- Pharmacy access laws have been passed in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia, as well as in Washington, DC. https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/pharmacist-prescribed-contraceptives
- Reasons for and experience in obtaining pharmacist prescribed contraception. Rodriguez, Maria I. et al. Contraception, Volume 102, Issue 4, 259 – 261 retrieved from: https://www.contraceptionjournal.org/article/S0010-7824(20)30174-8/fulltext