NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Over-the-counter birth control doesn’t exist in Tennessee yet, but it’s already law in Oregon and California.
However, one of the people who helps make Tennessee’s laws wants our state to be next.
“This is as close to an official announcement as there is,” Senator Steve Dickerson told News 2.
Dickerson wants to make birth control more accessible to women.
He’s also an anesthesiologist and has kept his plans quiet until now.
“The fact that you had the story last week on this same subject actually pushed me forward about a week earlier than I anticipated,” said Senator Dickerson.
He said he has been doing research for months and believes the bill fills a need.
Talking to his constituents prompted him to take on the legislation.
MORE: Should Tennessee allow birth control over the counter?
“I think one of the barriers is the very fact people need to go to a doctor’s office,” Sen. Dickerson explained. “They need to take time off from work, time away from their family; they need to schedule childcare.”
Dickerson’s legislation would make that history. Instead, a pharmacist would have the power to prescribe birth control.
And if you’re wondering if cost would be an issue, Dickerson says, “The one thing we don’t want to do is jeopardize current coverage for oral contraceptives through insurance.”
“So our bill may run parallel to that and allow people to simply purchase on a cash basis oral contraceptives or it may actually intersect with that and allow pharmacists to prescribe them and have them covered. That’s one of the details we will work out over the coming month,” he continued.
He’s still working out the exact language but will be using the Oregon and California statutes as starting points.
Oregon was the first to implement the law, which applies to women 18 and over who much fill out a questionnaire at the pharmacy for a pharmacist to review. If all looks good, she’ll get the pill.
Dr. Stephanie Slocum, an OBGYN with the Tristar Medical Group, says there are concerns.
“It’s interesting to see how it’s going to pan out,” she said. “It would be important for patients to follow up with their doctor for just annual screenings,” she continued.
Dr. Slocum continued, “Pap smears are important, as well as other screenings we do in the office as well as making sure you are on the correct birth control,” said Dr. Slocum.
Sen. Dickerson said he hopes to have the bill on the calendar in about one month.
News 2 also spoke with Micah Cost, the executive director of the Tennessee Pharmacists Association.
“We’re eager, willing to work with him to try and increase patient access to oral contraceptives and the role that pharmacists might play in increasing that access especially at an affordable method,” said Cost.
He said he believes pharmacists are qualified to participate in this type of program.