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Women Can Now Access Birth Control Without a Prescription in New York

Women Can Now Access Birth Control Without a Prescription in New York

Women in New York no longer need a doctor’s prescription to get birth control.

Pharmacists throughout the state can now dispense birth control without a prescription to anyone, according to an order signed March 19 by the state health commissioner.

The order pertains to three types of self-administered hormonal contraceptives approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration: oral hormonal pills, hormonal vaginal rings, and hormonal contraceptive patches.

a woman waves a feminist flag as student protesters shout slogans during a demonstration marking international womens day in barcelona on march 8, 2019 unions, feminist associations and left wing parties have called for a work stoppage for two hours on march 8, hoping to recreate the strike and mass protests seen nationwide to mark the same day in 2018 photo by pau barrena afp photo by pau barrenaafp via getty images
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Pharmacists who choose to participate can give individuals up to a 12-month supply of the customer’s contraception of choice. Out-of-state visitors can also obtain birth control in New York—a major step forward in women’s ongoing fight for reproductive rights in the United States.

“Anybody can—you’re welcome to get a year’s supply,” state health commissioner James McDonald said at a news conference after signing the order. “You want to come to New York and get your birth control pill, you’re welcome.”

pro choice campaigners at a national march for womens lives in washington dc, 9th march 1986 photo by barbara alpergetty images
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For years, it has been incredibly difficult for American women to access birth control. In conservative-run states, pro-life groups have raided reproductive clinics while state leaders pass laws to ensure women have no say when it comes to their bodies. And while those issues are far less common for them, women in liberal states do still struggle with high out-of-pocket costs for birth control, long wait times at fertility and OB-GYN clinics, a dearth of appointments due to high demand, and issues with getting prescriptions through video appointments.

production 12 december 2023, bavaria, planegg gynecologist stephanie eder gives a young patient the contraceptive pill in her gynecologists office photo stefan puchnerdpa photo by stefan puchnerpicture alliance via getty images
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The birth control order comes as part of a major push by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and other state leaders to expand the availability of reproductive health care amid dwindling access to it elsewhere in the country. (Just last month, the Alabama Supreme Court threatened the future of egg-freezing and IVF treatment.)

Since the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in 2022, Kathy has moved to protect abortion access in New York—signing laws to protect patients and providers, investing millions in providers across the state, and purchasing a five-year supply of the abortion medication misoprostol. This year, she also allocated $100.7 million in new funding to support abortion providers and reproductive health care.

demonstrators gather for the 4th annual womens march in washington, dc, on january 18, 2020 photo by andrew caballero reynolds afp photo by andrew caballero reynoldsafp via getty images
ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS - Getty Images

Kathy joined James at College Parkside Pharmacy in Albany to sign the standing order. “At a time when reproductive rights are under attack, New York State will continue to fight for every individual’s right to access the health care they need,” she said. “Starting a family is a deeply personal decision, and New York State will always be a place where people can access safe and effective contraceptives.”

new york, ny january 20 thousands of men and women hold signs and rally while attending the womens march on january 20, 2018 in new york, united states across the nation hundreds of thousands of people are marching on what is the one year anniversary of president donald trumps swearing in to protest against his past statements on women and to celebrate womens rights around the world photo by spencer plattgetty images
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