State Sen. Eric Brakey is sponsoring a bill that would allow women to buy birth control pills and patches over the counter with an expired prescription.

Brakey sees it as a free-market approach: women could skip the current time and expense of an annual visit to the doctor for a new prescription and buy it at the pharmacy.

“This is in some ways fulfilling a campaign promise that I made when I ran the first time talking about this issue,” Brakey, R-Auburn, said Monday. “As I talk to people on the right and the left, there’s a lot of open minds. If we can do it in a way that doesn’t create impositions on other people, forcing other people to pay for it, if we’re increasing access, it should be a win for everyone.”

His bill, LD 954, “An Act To Make Certain Contraception Available over the Counter,” is up for a public hearing Wednesday in front of the Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development Committee.

The bill would empower pharmacists who complete a training program to dispense hormonal contraceptive pills and patches as long as there’s proof of a past prescription. Brakey said he plans to add an amendment that would require that the old prescription must have been written within the past three years.

“It cuts out that whole extra visit to the doctor that can be expensive and can be a barrier to people, so the goal is just to make that whole process easier,” Brakey said. “It’s still good to go to a doctor for regular checkups and everything like that, but now you don’t need to go to the doctor if the only thing you’re going for is to get that prescription.”

Brakey, who attempted a similar bill two years ago that wasn’t printed, said he’s been inspired by the national discussion around health care and access to birth control.

The aim, he said, isn’t to interfere with a woman’s insurance coverage. If her birth control is covered with a current prescription, he believes it should also be covered with an expired one.

“I’ve even heard from college students: You’re in college, your family doctor is in your hometown and your prescription runs out and you have to make a trip all the way back to wherever your parents are just to go visit your family doctor and get a new prescription,” Brakey said.

“The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend (pills and patches) moving to being completely available over the counter, just like Claritin or many other things; this doesn’t even go that far,” he said. “You’re still getting a prescription, we’re just making that prescription process easier.”

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 State Sen. Eric Brakey

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