Tietz: Reynolds’ birth-control bill is a step in the right direction for both parties

Over-the-counter birth control bill moves through Iowan Legislature and can be seen as a victory for both sides of the aisle.


Ben Allan Smith

The Capitol building in Des Moines is pictured on April 29, 2018.

Caely Tietz , Opinions Columnist

Gov. Kim Reynolds’ proposal for over-the-counter birth control passed well beyond the partisan margin in the state Senate on March 27 and will soon head to the state House for a vote. This bill would allow many types of self-administered hormonal contraceptives to be purchased over-the-counter rather than with a doctor’s prescription. These self-administered contraceptives include oral pills, vaginal rings, and patches. The bill was a campaign promise Reynolds made during her visit to Sioux City for a debate last year and was introduced in the Legislature in February.

[The bill] is a step in the right direction for both parties because it allows greater access to contraceptives for women in the state who may be unable to afford the price of a doctor’s visit. ”

The bill passed in the Senate 42-6 with only six Republican members voting against the bill and two senators absent. While every Democratic senator voted in favor of the bill, there remain some concerns about the specific details of the legislation that were brought to the Senate floor. Many lawmakers worry that allowing contraceptives to be purchased without a physician’s prescription would eliminate follow-up procedures with a health-care provider after starting the medication and ultimately, decrease the overall need for doctor supervision in women’s health care.

The bill, however, does include requirements for pharmacists to undergo education training before being able to dispense the contraceptives, which would require that a pharmacist informs the patient about potential risks and symptoms as well as require each patient to fill out a self-screening assessment beforehand. Many Iowa lawmakers are confident that pharmacists would be adequately trained to advise women who are interested in purchasing over-the-counter birth control and would also encourage the consultation of a doctor.

RELATED: Over-the-counter birth-control bill advances in Iowa Legislature

Providing over-the-counter access to self-administered birth control is a step in the right direction for both parties because it allows greater access to contraceptives for women in the state who may be unable to afford the price of a doctor’s visit in order to get a prescription or do not have direct access to a health-care provider. Additionally, many contraceptives boast a 90 percent or better success rate (CDC.gov) for preventing unwanted pregnancies, which would not change if these methods were to be provided over-the-counter. Instead, this would increase access for women who felt as if they could not get contraceptive care otherwise. Birth control can also provide other reproductive-health benefits to women such as reducing pain, heavy bleeding, acne, anemia, and other symptoms experienced during a menstrual period.

Both women’s health care and abortion are hotly debated issues in our country, and Iowa is no exception. This bill would be one of the first in recent Legislatures to bridge the gap between Democratic and Republican issues. It supports liberal ideals in providing affordable and accessible health care for women, especially after there has been a nationwide decrease in funding in programs such as Planned Parenthood. Conservatives who are in favor of the plan argue that as pro-life supporters, this would decrease abortion rates in the state. The legislation, if passed, would reach across both sides of the aisle to provide valuable resources to Iowans. Reynolds’ bill has the potential to be the start of many cohesive and comprehensive Iowa legislation that promote partisan cooperation and support.

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