Proposal would ease access to hormonal contraceptives

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Rep. Kara Hope, a Democrat from Holt, is a sponsor of legislation to ease women’s access to contraceptives

Michigan House of Representatives.

Rep. Kara Hope, a Democrat from Holt, is a sponsor of legislation to ease women’s access to contraceptives

Capital News Service

LANSING – Rep. Laurie Pohutsky says that breaking health care barriers and working toward easier contraceptive access is one of her top priorities this year. 

Two such bills have been reintroduced after failing to win approval in the past, according to the Legislature’s website. 

Pohutsky, a Livonia Democrat, sits on the Health and Policy Subcommittee on Behavioral Health where she says she’ll inform the public about what such legislation could do for the state. 

“This will help individuals who may not have a primary care provider or an OB-GYN, have transportation issues, can’t take time off work for an appointment, etc.,” Pohutsky said. 

As lawmakers and other public officials in many states try to put restrictions on women’s reproductive health care, Michigan will make it a priority to protect their reproductive rights, according to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. 

Access to hormonal contraceptives is a crucial part of a woman’s right to reproductive freedom and will help her plan her future and that of her family, Whitmer says. 

Rep. Kara Hope D-Holt, a sponsor of the legislation, said, “The bills will allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal-based contraceptives and require insurance companies to pay for a pharmacist-prescribed birth control.”

Hope said, “This could mean the difference between relatively easy access to contraception or no access to contraception at all.” 

Hope said, “Michigan has an OB-GYN and physician shortage in general, but there isn’t a shortage of pharmacies.” 

She said, “This could make a lot of difference in rural areas. but also in urban areas. For example, Detroit has a scant population of doctors, and people there have trouble getting access to birth control.”

If the legislation becomes law, there will be a two-step process to buy hormonal contraceptives. One is a self-evaluation tool with a questionnaire regarding the woman’s health and other relevant information. The second is an evaluation by the pharmacist. 

Assuming that a woman is healthy and there’s no other reason to deny the hormonal contraceptives, she will be able to purchase them, according to Hope.

“This term I am a lot more optimistic,” she said. “The attitude toward something like this has changed for the better. We want people to be able to take care of their health care, and this will give them the tools to do that.”

At a recent House Health Policy Committee, the Michigan Association of Health Plans criticized the legislation, according to Brian Mills, the association’s deputy director.

“We are not opposed to the bill. We are looking to change some of the wording in the bill to make things more clear and make sure everything will run safely,” he said. 

The current wording of the bill is too broad, Mills said. It states that any pharmacy or pharmacist can prescribe hormonal contraceptives. 

The association wants precise language in the bill to allow only credentialed pharmacists to prescribe them, he said.

Editor’s note. This story was updated on March 11, 2024, to correct the name of the association and its official who commented on the legislation.

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