Senate Committee Passes Bill Allowing Arkansas Pharmacists To Provide Birth Control
A bill that allows pharmacists to prescribe and administer up to at least six months of oral contraceptives to those who seek it, passed a Senate committee on Monday.
The Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee, by a voice vote, advanced House Bill 1069, with no dissenting votes heard.
Under the legislation, after screening a patient to assess whether they’ve been seen by a primary-care provider in the past six months, pharmacists would be able to prescribe and dispense no more than six month’s worth of oral contraceptives to a patient, until said patient has been seen by a primary or woman’s health care provider.
Under the bill, pharmacists must also complete a training program related to oral contraceptives that has been approved by the Arkansas State Board of Pharmacy.
Sen. Breanne Davis, R-Russellville, in presenting the legislation to the committee, cited the state’s birthrate for 18- and 19-year-olds, which according to data from the Arkansas Department of Health, is 72.4 per 1,000 births. That number is over 30 points higher than the national average of 40.7.
"If our goal is to reduce the number of abortions in the state of Arkansas, which I think that is the goal of all of us on this committee, then we need to check the data. We need to see if the policies that we have in place are matching our outcomes. And in this case, they’re just not," Davis said.
Three people spoke against the bill, including Rose Mimms, Executive Director of Arkansas Right to Life, though the organization itself is neutral on the bill. Mimms disagreed with Davis’ statement that the bill is a "pro-life" bill.
"If it was, pro-abortion House members, like those endorsed by Planned Parenthood and who speak against every pro-life bill, would not have voted for it," Mimms said.
The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote from all members. If passed, it then goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for a signature.