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Easier access to birth control became a priority for Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds. A bill addressing the issue would allow “behind-the-counter” access to hormonal contraceptives, according to Republican Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks.
Casey Ficek of the Iowa Pharmacy Association said the pharmacists would be spending time with patients in order to provide the best course of action, so they’d like to see some sort of recognition in terms of a payment mechanism.
Jamie Burch of Planned Parenthood spoke in support of the bill. She noted The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends no age limits on access to birth control from pharmacists.
Jodi Tomlonovic of the Family Planning Council of Iowa said the group supports anything to improve access to contraceptives for Iowa women.
Kathryn Kueter of Concerned Women for America of Iowa spoke in opposition to the bill. She noted a couple of concerns, starting with whether or not there is a need for this option in Iowa.
She listed off unintended consequences as well. The detrimental health impacts birth control can have, especially when no physician is involved in monitoring the medical history of the patient is a major concern. There’s a lack of accountability as pharmacists have no liability.
Finally, she said there’s a chance this bill will help sex traffickers keep their victims from seeing a doctor.
Lisa Davis of the Iowa Association for Justice said the trial lawyers are concerned about liability protection for pharmacists.
“Whenever you put in protections you take away the accountability of our justice system,” Davis said. “That takes away incentive for providers to act responsibly.”
She encouraged language that included acting reasonably and in good-faith.
Paula Dierenfeld of the Federation of Iowa Insurers said after circulating the bill to health carriers there was concern with a 12-month dispensing of a contraceptive. The House bill, she said, proposed a tiered system.
Joan Thompson of the Iowa Catholic Conference said the group has strong reservations about expanding access to the drugs.
“We question what goal this change in policy hopes to achieve,” she said. “Especially with the dangers it could pose.”
Kayla Lyon of the Governor’s Office said the issue is a passionate one for Gov. Kim Reynolds. She said it increases the access to contraception to make it easier to reduce the barriers that help reduce unintended pregnancies. She also said rural Iowans would benefit from the bill.
Miller-Meeks said there would be an extensive questionnaire required and a pharmacist could refuse to dispense the medication.
A few possible amendments were discussed and will likely be proposed before the committee during the process.