There’s a push to get over-the-counter birth control in the state of Tennessee.
Tennessee Senator Steve Dickerson, who is also a medical doctor, is working on a bill to make birth control more accessible to patients. They would still have to see a pharmacist to get the medication, but they wouldn’t need a prescription.
“It’s going to be a real inspiration for pharmacists all around the state of Tennessee,” Pharmacist Cleve Anderson from Anderson Compounding Pharmacy said.
Senator Dickerson told News 5 he wants the bill to go through to give women the option to buy the pill when needed.
“Men can get condoms over the counter, women can’t,” Dickerson said. “So part of what we’re trying to do is bring an equal footing.”
Statistics show in the state of Tennessee somewhere as high as 50% of pregnancies are unintended or mistimed. Something Senator Dickerson thinks is unacceptable.
“When that occurs there are all sorts of physical, social, and financial ramifications,” Dickerson said. “I just think we can do better. I think one of the ways we can do this is by making more contraceptives available.”
If the bill passes, it would mean anyone 18 or older will talk to their pharmacist and look at a list of risks and potential side effects. After a brief conversation, or maybe even a questionnaire, they’ll choose a pill that best suits the woman’s needs.
“With the filling of a questionnaire out and getting the involvement of a pharmacist in there, I think that’s a great idea,” Anderson said.
But some worry that woman won’t thoughtfully use the medication and will schedule fewer appointments with their OB/GYN. News 5 reached out to Wellmont Medical Associates Woman’s Health Department about these concerns. Dr. Lenita Thibault said she would be concerned about the potential for this being the case. On the other side, Senator Dickerson said he thinks women are more than capable of making a lot of detailed decisions.
Similar bills are already in place in Oregon and California. Senator Dickerson plans to model his bill after those states but he’ll make his specific to the volunteer state. He hopes to have it written in the next four weeks.
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