Gender Justice, Health and Education
WREN Statement in Support of Pharmacy Access Act
by WREN Staff on Apr 19, 2022
Statement as presented to Subcommittee I Health and Environmental Affairs on April 20, 2022
Thank you, Chairman Hart, and members of the subcommittee, for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Ashley Lidow and I am the Director of Policy and Government Relations for 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.628.
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(i). Family planning has important health benefits for parents 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 at a healthy birth weight(ii) – a key indicator of overall health(iii).
People in our state understand how crucial contraceptive access is to their well-being and that is why a recent public opinion poll of likely voters found that 90% of South Carolinians support increased access to contraception(iv).
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(v). Some 60% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method(vi). 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(vii). About 95% of unintended pregnancies occur in women who do not use contraception or who use it inconsistently or incorrectly(viii). 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. People living in rural areas and people with lower incomes face greater barriers to access and consistent usage(ix.
“Pharmacy access” laws overcome many of these barriers. By authorizing pharmacists to dispense 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 dispensing of contraceptives has been proven to be safe and effective(x).
Currently, 24 states (including the District of Columbia) allow pharmacists to prescribe and dispense self-administered hormonal methods (e.g., the pill, patch, ring, and shot)(xi). A survey found that consumers chose to access contraception from their pharmacists because it was more timely and convenient(xii).
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 parents, babies, and families in South Carolina. I urge you to vote YES on S.628. Thank you for your consideration.