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'A step in the right direction': New SC law will allow pharmacists to dispense hormonal birth control without a doctor's visit

South Carolina joins 15 other states in allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills without a doctor's visit.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Accessing birth control in South Carolina will soon become easier, thanks to a new law that will allow pharmacists to dispense birth control without a doctor's prescription. 

The law only includes self administered birth control like the pill, the patch and the ring along with birth control shots. Insertion of implants or Intrauterine Devices will still require a trip to the doctor. 

"In many parts of the state, we have primary care and OB deserts and oftentimes the only healthcare provider in that area is a pharmacist," said University of South Carolina College of  Pharmacy Associate Professor Patti Fabel. 

According to the Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network, 50% of pregnancies in South Carolina are unplanned. The organization says 95% of those are because women did not use contraceptives correctly or consistently.

Fabel said this law will remove a barrier for reproductive rights across the states. Though it won't eliminate all barriers, like the cost of it. 

"If you don't have prescription insurance or if your insurance doesn't cover these products its still not gonna be covered at a pharmacy level," said Fabel. 

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Owner of Soda City Pharmacy and compounding in St. Andrews Dr. Tremain Copper said he dispenses birth control prescriptions every day to customers and will be opting into the new law. 

"Maternal health outcomes are something that really need to be discussed in the African American community," said Cooper. "This new law is a step in the right direction."

The State Board of Medical Examiners and State Board of Pharmacy are currently writing rules for participation. Pharmacists will also be allowed to opt out if they do not want to participate.

The law is expected to go into effect early next year.  

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