Family

No, you shouldn't need a doctor to get birth control. Just look at Oregon.

Oregon and California now allow for women to get the birth control pill without a prescription. Will other states follow?

No, you shouldn't need a doctor to get birth control. Just look at Oregon.

In its more than 55-year history, birth control pills have been available only by prescription in the U.S.

And in that time, the pill has become the go-to contraceptive choice for sexually active women. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, roughly 4 in 5 sexually experienced women have at one point taken the pill. It's considered highly effective, with a more than 90% success rate.

Still, despite its popularity and track record of relative safety, the process of actually acquiring hormonal contraceptives has required women to get prescriptions.


Planned Parenthood publicity director Marcia Goldstein looks at New York bus ads in December 1967. Services like those provided by Planned Parenthood have helped low-income women access birth control for decades. Photo by H. William Tetlow/Fox Photos/Getty Images.

For women in Oregon who use the pill, getting a refill just got a lot easier.

In July, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill 2879 into law, granting pharmacists the right to dispense oral contraception without a prescription. That law went into action Jan. 1, making Oregon the first in the nation to cut out the middleman (the doctor) in this low-risk transaction.

"Oregon has the rare opportunity to drive the national conversation around women’s health, family security, and poverty," said the bill's sponsor, state Rep. Knute Buehler. "This will become landmark legislation that reduces unplanned pregnancies, gives women more control, and affirms Oregon’s reputation as a leader in health care innovation."

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed the bill into law on July 6, 2015. Photo by Matt Mills McKnight-Pool/Getty Images.

21% of low-income women who are at risk for unintended pregnancy are likely to use the pill if it's available without a prescription.

That's according to a 2015 study published in the health journal Contraception. Additionally, researchers found that making the pill available for free and without a prescription would reduce the number of women using no birth control or less effective methods by 20-36% and bring down the number of unintended pregnancies by 7-25%.

Fewer unintended pregnancies is a win for everyone.

Photo from iStock.

The new law also makes additional training available for pharmacists.

Some of the law's opponents have expressed concern that pharmacists may not be equipped to handle certain situations. After all, if the pill has required a prescription all this time, there must be a reason for that, right?

"Oregon has the rare opportunity to drive the national conversation around women’s health, family security, and poverty." — State Rep. Knute Buehler

Well, it's not as though the pill isn't without some risk — all medications have some risk of side effects. It is possible that hormonal birth control can lead to blood clots, heart attack, high blood pressure, or stroke — and it's important to take those risks seriously.

But that's not reason enough to keep the pill hidden behind a doctor's prescription pad. After all, other safe medications have made the shift from prescription-only to over-the-counter — such as Flonase, Nexium, Allegra, Zyrtec, Mucinex, Claritin, nicotine patches, and, well, you get the point.

To assuage those concerns, the bill's supporters included a provision that will ensure pharmacists are qualified and informed on the topic of birth control, side effects, and risk factors.

Photo by iStock.

Other states aren't far behind Oregon.

In 2013, California passed a similar bill. Ever since, the state's Board of Pharmacy has worked to develop a plan of action for pharmacists. Beginning Jan. 1, pharmacists in California began dispensing birth control without a doctor's prescription. California's plan differs from Oregon's in a few minor ways, but the sentiment is the same: one less barrier to women's health care.

Lawmakers in Colorado and Washington also have taken up similar legislation.

Photo by iStock.

As other states put additional restrictions on reproductive health care, Oregon, California, Colorado, and Washington stand out for doing the opposite.

In a time when reproductive health care is under attack in many states, it's heartening to know some are doing what they can to expand access to essential, vital care. If Oregon's and California's new laws wind up being successes, there's hope other states will follow suit.

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash
True

This story was originally shared on Capital One.

Inside the walls of her kitchen at her childhood home in Guatemala, Evelyn Klohr, the founder of a Washington, D.C.-area bakery called Kakeshionista, was taught a lesson that remains central to her business operations today.

"Baking cakes gave me the confidence to believe in my own brand and now I put my heart into giving my customers something they'll enjoy eating," Klohr said.

While driven to launch her own baking business, pursuing a dream in the culinary arts was economically challenging for Klohr. In the United States, culinary schools can open doors to future careers, but the cost of entry can be upwards of $36,000 a year.

Through a friend, Klohr learned about La Cocina VA, a nonprofit dedicated to providing job training and entrepreneurship development services at a training facility in the Washington, D.C-area.

La Cocina VA's, which translates to "the kitchen" in Spanish, offers its Bilingual Culinary Training program to prepare low-and moderate-income individuals from diverse backgrounds to launch careers in the food industry.

That program gave Klohr the ability to fully immerse herself in the baking industry within a professional kitchen facility and receive training in an array of subjects including culinary skills, food safety, career development and English language classes.

Keep Reading Show less

Image is a representation of the grandfather, not the anonymous subject of the story.

Eight years a go, a grandfather in Michigan wrote a powerful letter to his daughter after she kicked out her son out of the house for being gay. It's so perfectly written that it crops up on social media every so often.

The letter is beautiful because it's written by a man who may not be with the times, but his heart is in the right place.

It first appeared on the Facebook page FCKH8 and a representative told Gawker that the letter was given to them by Chad, the 16-year-old boy referenced in the letter.

Keep Reading Show less
True

When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."