This isYour Victory

Passing Pharmacy Access of Contraception

More Progress

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.  As one of WREN’s top priorities in the 2021-2022 session, the Pharmacy Access Act allows pharmacists the ability to dispense contraceptives directly to consumers. The bill received overwhelming bipartisan support throughout its legislative journey and was signed by the Governor immediately after passage.  This now makes  South Carolina one of  24 other states to provide this service.

The Issue

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. 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 – a key indicator of overall health.

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. About 95% of unintended pregnancies occur in women who do not use contraception or who use it inconsistently or incorrectly. 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.

“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.

The Action

As the leading gender justice organization in South Carolina, WREN worked with the bill sponsor Senator Tom Davis to build support for the legislation from physicians, pharmacists, partners, and legislators. After the bill passed the Senate, Representative Russell Ott led the charge in ensuring the policy received overwhelming bipartisan support in the House. Final approval was given to the bill on Sine Die, the last day of the session, and the Governor signed the bill on May 23, 2022.

The Result

The Pharmacy Access Act will take effect upon the issuance of a written joint protocol and the Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Pharmacy must issue a written joint protocol pursuant to Section 40-43-240 not later than six months after the passage of this act. This means that the act will take effect November 23, 2022 and at that time pharmacists can opt in to dispensing self-administered hormonal methods (e.g., the pill, patch, ring, and shot utilizing the joint protocol.

What's Next

While we celebrate the hard-won victories of this session, we cannot lose sight of the huge threats ahead. While we await the Supreme Court’s decision on the Mississippi abortion case, we are preparing for the SC legislature to attempt to enact a total abortion ban, which could happen as soon as July. WREN will be leading the fight to defend our rights, and we will  hold every lawmaker accountable for their votes. Our lives and our futures depend on it.


From the Community