How Oregon Fixed Birth Control

Two new laws give Oregon women more flexibility and independence than any other state in the country.

By Jennifer Abbasi December 21, 2015 Published in the January 2016 issue of Portland Monthly

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Starting January 1, getting birth control will be easier for women in Oregon than—arguably, at least—for women anywhere else in the country. Two new laws, passed last summer with strong bipartisan support, make sweeping changes to how the state’s doctors and pharmacies prescribe and distribute birth control.

“If you’re going to lead the way, that means others have to follow,” says Mary Nolan, executive director of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, the political arm of the women’s health provider. “Real-life access to birth control is now easiest in Oregon.”

LAW #1

Women in Oregon can walk into their pharmacy and pick up a full year’s worth of birth control—and have it covered by insurance. Until now, women could usually pick up only one pill pack (or one contraceptive patch or ring) at a time. Although some insurers already allowed up to three-month refills, Oregon becomes the only state where insurance plans now must supply a full 12-months if a woman has a prescription.

“Research shows that when women have a full year’s supply all at once, their likelihood of an unintended pregnancy drops as much as 30 percent,” Nolan says. “It’s a huge benefit for women to have this access all at once, and it’s actually a very strong benefit for public health and insurers.”

LAW #2

This law allows pharmacists to get voluntary training to prescribe birth control pills and the patch themselves. (The ring isn’t included in this one, alas). That means women don’t have to see their doctors to get a birth control prescription or wait for their provider to authorize a refill when it runs out.

A short legal history of birth control in the US


- 1873 -

The Comstock Act prohibits bans advertising and selling birth control and allows postmen to confiscate birth control sent in the mail.

- 1916 -

Margaret Sanger opens first birth control clinic in the United States and is soon sentence to jail. She continues her clinical efforts.

- 1950 -

Sanger helps create the first birth control pill by raising $150,000 for research.

- 1960 -

The FDA approves the first oral contraceptive, Enovid.

- 1965 -

The Supreme Court grants married couples the right to use birth control, ruling that it was protected in the Constitution as a right to privacy. Unmarried women in 26 states have no access.

- 1968 -

The FDA approves intrauterine devices (IUDs).

- 1972 -

The Supreme Court legalizes birth control for all citizens of this country.

- 2013 -

Plan B One-Step becomes available without a prescription.

Depressing right? Let Amy Schumer lighten the mood:


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