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Government

Iowa governor proposes 'behind-the-counter' birth control

Pharmacists could distribute without prescription

Gov. Kim Reynolds meets with The Gazette's Editorial Board at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Gov. Kim Reynolds meets with The Gazette's Editorial Board at The Gazette in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal to make birth control pills available without a doctor’s prescription is expected to be introduced in the Iowa Legislature as early as Wednesday.

Her plan to make birth control more accessible, first proposed during her campaign last summer and fall, also would expand choices and family planning resources, particularly in rural Iowa, Reynolds said.

The order would give pharmacists the authority to distribute birth control, as much as a yearlong supply.

“Behind-the-counter” birth control would be handled in much the same way as standing orders for Naloxone, a medication to rapidly reverse the an opioid overdose.

A statewide standing order would be issued by the medical director of the Iowa Department of Public Health, a physician, Reynolds explained.

It would allow pharmacists to sell a variety of birth control products, such as pills and patches, to women 18 and older.

Before obtaining the birth control, a woman would need to complete a health assessment, which would include questions such as whether she had a history of breast cancer in her family, the governor said recently.

A doctor’s visit every two years would be necessary to continue to obtain the behind-the-counter birth control.

Under her plan, the cost of birth control would be covered by insurance.

“It’s a really good place to start,” the Republican governor said on Iowa Public Television’s “Iowa Press.”

Her proposal is modeled on one that received unanimous approval from the Utah Legislature.

It’s been tweaked to overcome some obstacles, Reynolds said.

“We’ve tried really hard to identify any problems that we might run into, and we’re going to be supporting it,” she said.

Research shows that women are more likely to stay on birth control if they can buy the pills for a year at a time, Reynolds said.

Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, called Reynolds’ proposal “insulting” because she didn’t speak up in support of a simliar Democratic proposal in 2016.

Petersen’s proposal then failed to win support in the Republican-controlled House.

l Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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