Plan expanding access to contraceptives advances in N.J.

New Jersey's Senate Health Committee has advanced a measure that would allow pharmacists to dispense hormone-based contraceptives to women without a prescription. (AP file photo)

New Jersey's Senate Health Committee has advanced a measure that would allow pharmacists to dispense hormone-based contraceptives to women without a prescription. (AP file photo)

New Jersey could become the fourth state allowing pharmacists to dispense self-administered hormone-based contraceptives to women without a doctor’s prescription.

“We need to remove every barrier that we can that prevent women from gaining access to contraceptives,” said Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer. “We do not want unplanned pregnancies. If we can do that, that would eliminate the need for abortions.”

Under the measure, consumers would have to use a self-screening tool to identify the risk factors of using the contraceptives.

Pharmacists would have to counsel the women about other forms of birth control.

Lawmakers raised concerns about charging a fee for that, but Laurie Clark with the New Jersey Pharmacists Association said it is only fair.

“It’s additional work. It’s quite a bit of additional work,” Clark said. “So it’s different from the prescription process.”

Sen. Bob Singer said insurance should cover the fee.

“It make sense, because if we said to that person you have to go to your doctor, it costs the insurance company a lot more than if I give a fee to the pharmacist to do that,” said Singer, R-Ocean.

John Tomicki, executive director of the American League of American Families, urged members of the Senate Health Committee not to advance the bill, calling it bad policy.

“You’re dealing with somebody who is sexually active. They should see a doctor. There are significant side effects. So you get to that issue of fully informed consent,” he said. “You have now put the pharmacist in the position of functioning more and more as a doctor.”

The panel was not swayed by that argument and Tuesday approved the measure for consideration by the full Senate.

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