Nearly 40 percent of female college students use prescription oral contraceptives, according to the American College Health Association. Some students are on birth control pills to help prevent unwanted pregnancy and to alleviate menstrual cramps. Today, in order to receive oral contraceptives, females must get it from Planned Parenthood, health clinic and health centers with a prescription from a doctor. For some young women whose physicians are back in their hometown, running out of refills while away at college means a gap in protection from unwanted pregnancy, according to the Denver Post, a daily newspaper published in Denver, Colorado.
Colorado passed a new state law that would allow women to get birth control pills or patches without prescriptions after 10 to 15 minutes consultation with a pharmacist. Women who are at least 18 can complete a questionnaire, have their blood-pressure checked and then walk out with birth-control pills or patches, according to the Denver Post.
Colorado will require women taking birth-control pills to see a doctor for a medical exam at least once every three years, which means a woman could receive pills or the patch without ever seeing a doctor but would need a medical exam within three years in order to continue the prescription.
Colorado isn’t the first state to have this regulation in place. Both Oregon and California have this regulation.
Plattsburgh State sophomore political science major, Gabrielle Tierney said the regulation could be a great idea in some situations. She said it depends on the person’s age and whether it would affect their health.
Tierney said she would allow the law to pass if she was a state legislature, but there would have to be regulations on it.
Pharmacist and Assistant Dean at the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy Gina Moore told the Denver Post easier access to contraception is expected to decrease the rate of unintended pregnancies in Colorado.
Tierney said with this new law, there would be fewer people going to Planned Parenthood to receive contraceptives. But its effectiveness would depend on the females themselves.
“It’s a matter of if they are actually going to use the contraceptives,” she said.
Nurse practitioner and director of Bella Natural Women’s Care, a women’s health clinic that teaches natural birth-control methods, Dede Chism told the Denver Post that pharmacists are excellent in medication, but they are not trained in care for the patient at the bedside. She said it seems like taking the health-care professional out of the process is a dangerous step. Tierney said her concerns are valid because they are precautions that people don’t know about.
“There are medical conditions that people can’t take contraceptives, and you wouldn’t know that unless you talk to your doctor” she said.
PSUC sophomore international business and management information system Lexy Philbert said she’s stuck in the middle of agreeing and disagreeing with the law because some women would abuse this privilege, but at the same time, it would help some people who don’t have health insurance and the money to go see a doctor first.
Philbert said she would let the law pass if she was a state legislature because it is an opportunity for disadvantaged women to get birth control that would help them in the long run. Philbert said there is a correlation between access to contraception and decrease in unintended pregnancy. By the government helping women avoid unintended pregnancies with publicly funded family planning services saved taxpayers $13.6 billion in 2010, according to guttmacher.org, an institution with a leading research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and globally.
“If you think about it, some women who are less fortunate are more likely to have kids,” Philbert said.
Philbert said the nurse petitioner has a valid point because although pharmacists and doctors are medically trained, doctors are broader in their range of knowledge.
“There should be one doctor at every pharmacy, so that way you can speak with the doctor first and then the pharmacists can come up with a plan,” she said.
Dr. Kathleen Camelo, director of the student health and counseling center at PSUC, said some other countries allow this. She said there are some contraindications for oral contraception with estrogen. Contraindication is defined as a symptom or condition that makes a particular treatment or procedure inadvisable, according to Merriam Webster.
If someone has a history of blood clots or migraines that come before a sensation perceived by a patient that precedes a condition affecting the brain. Then that person should not have an oral contraception with estrogen. She said pharmacists can ask these types of questions and feel comfortable assuring that the patients understand these contraindications.
Pharmacists in Colorado are preparing for the new policy with protocols that would allow them to provide services that address public health needs. The government is trying to restrict accessibility to contraceptives with this regulation.
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