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Arkansas Legislature Passes Bill Allowing Pharmacists To Prescribe And Dispense Birth Control

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Arkansas Senate
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The Arkansas Legislature has passed a bill that would allow pharmacies to administer up to six months’ worth of birth control for patients seeking it. The Senate on Wednesday gave final approval to House Bill 1069. It advanced the Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor committee on Monday.

The legislation would allow pharmacists, after screening a patient to assess whether that person has been seen by a primary-care provider in the previous six months, to dispense no more than six months’ worth of birth control until the patient has been seen by a doctor.

Pharmacists must also provide the patient with a referral to a local healthcare provider. The pharmacist would not be allowed to refer a patient to an abortion provider. 

Sen. Missy Irvin, R-Mountain View, was the only senator to speak against the bill. She pushed back against bill sponsor Sen. Breanne Davis’, R-Russellville, assertion the bill is "pro-life," and spoke about medical-related issues. 

"My concern is the safety of the woman and making sure that you have the ability to get the screenings that you need for cervical cancers," Irvin said. "A lot of times young ladies, young women, that’s the time when they go to see their primary care doctor or provider or nurse or OBGYN, that’s when they actually get screenings for cervical cancers and their pelvic exams."

Sen. Trent Garner, R-El Dorado, spoke for the bill. He shared his own experiences about difficulty in securing an appointment to receive birth control for his wife, saying the process took months.

"When I hear about a bill like this where you can go to the pharmacist, they can give you the list of information about what that drug will do and then within six months you do have to see a physician or go to that requirement, it seems like a no brainer plan for people who have a busy life, who want to go out there and want to make the right decisions for their family," Garner said. 

The bill passed by a vote of 30-to-2, with two senators voting present. It now goes to Gov. Asa Hutchinson to decide whether to sign it into law.

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