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.