'Access to Birth Control Act' reintroduced, aims to eliminate barriers for contraception

U.S. Senator Patty Murray and other lawmakers reintroduced legislation to make pharmacies provide birth control medications nationwide.

The Access to Birth Control Act was first introduced in 2019, and lawmakers reintroduced the draft law on Tuesday. The bill aims to provide ‘timely access to birth control at the pharmacy,’ and also addresses pharmacies' ‘refusals of contraception’ that keep patients from getting their preferred birth control medication.

The act will mandate that if contraception meds are out of stock, pharmacies must quickly refer the patient to another, or order the medication if the patient prefers.

Patients will also be protected from ‘intimidation, threats or harassment’ from pharmacy employees who object to the use of contraception.

Lastly, pharmacies that violate these requirements will be liable for civil penalties, and a private cause of action for patients.

"Birth control is essential health care—full stop. And it’s health care that helps ensure everyone can control their own bodies, lives and futures," said Murray. "With reproductive rights under attack from every angle, we’ve got to stand up and make clear that no one should be able to come between a patient and the birth control they need—including being turned away at the pharmacy."

According to the National Women's Law Center, pharmacists have refused to provide birth control or emergency contraception in 24 states and Washington, D.C. Moreover, the COVID-19 pandemic has made barriers to contraception even more difficult. The NWLC says one in three women have experienced delays in getting birth control during the pandemic.

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