Utah women will soon be able to get birth control directly from a pharmacist rather than visiting a doctor each time they want to obtain or renew a prescription. Only a few other states have made similar moves, most of them liberal.
Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed a measure into law on Tuesday allowing women over 18 to get pills, the patch and some other contraceptive devices. Similar laws exist in states including California, Colorado and Oregon.
Republican state Sen. Todd Weiler, who sponsored the measure said Wednesday, "I think five years ago, it wouldn't have passed, but I think the world and Utah is changing. People are more accepting of the fact that these things make sense and they actually save the state money."
Public health officials say some studies have shown unplanned births can increase the money being spent on social programs like Medicaid, which covers the costs of about one-third of all births in Utah.
The new law was passed unanimously by the Legislature and will take effect May 8. Women will first have to fill out a form assessing their risks of taking birth control before getting the medication. They will also have to check in with a doctor every two years.
The measure allows pharmacists to issue birth control under a standing prescription issued by a health department doctor.
Insurers will likely need to cover birth control under a prescription, according to University of Utah pharmacy graduate student Wilson Pace, who drafted the measure as a school project. Weiler proposed the measure at Pace's suggestion.
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