- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois lawmakers showed little support for a plan that would allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraceptive patch and oral contraception to thousands of women although the proposal might be revived later.

Schaumberg Democratic Rep. Michelle Mussman wants to expand who can prescribe contraception beyond doctors to pharmacists saying the plan would give low-income women who can’t afford to go to a doctor greater access to contraception. Similar legislation ation has been approved in California and Oregon.

The House Health Care Licenses Committee overwhelmingly opposed Mussman’s plan on Tuesday after hearing testimony from a pharmacist, the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Medical Society.

The committee agreed to hear the plan again after Mussman and opponents have agreed amendments.

The plan would require pharmacists to undergo special training, administer a self-screening risk assessment questionnaire, and recommend a woman see a primary care physician. The measure would also prevent pharmacists from prescribing and giving contraception to women who have not seen a doctor within the last three years of the initial prescription and who have severe health risks such as a heart condition or hyper thyroids.

There are about 130,000 unintended pregnancies a year statewide according to Nirav Shah, director of the state’s Public Health agency and supporter of Mussman’s plan. Shah said by allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception, the state could decrease the number of unintended pregnancies by nearly 25 percent. He said lawmakers shouldn’t withhold access to contraception to force women to see a doctor.

However Jacksonville Republican Rep. C.D. Davidsmeyer said the plan could decrease the likelihood a woman would regularly see her physician if she could simply go to a pharmacist instead.

Mussman said she wasn’t surprised by the opposition from lawmakers.

“There are a lot of people involved in women gaining access to contraception in some way,” Mussman said after the hearing, “so how do we get all the pieces to work out.”


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