The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Iowa lawmakers advance bill expanding over-the-counter birth control access

The bill, proposed by Gov. Kim Reynolds, would allow a pharmacist to dispense self-administered birth control to adults.
Gov.+Kim+Reynolds+speaks+during+Reynolds%E2%80%99+annual+Harvest+Festival+at+the+Elwell+Family+Food+Center+on+the+Iowa+State+Fairgrounds+in+Des+Moines+on+Saturday%2C+Oct.+14%2C+2023.
Jordan Barry
Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during Reynolds’ annual Harvest Festival at the Elwell Family Food Center on the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines on Saturday, Oct. 14, 2023.

A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced a bill Monday that would allow the legal sale of over-the-counter birth control.

The bill, House Study Bill 642, was introduced by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds to prevent unplanned pregnancies and in turn, reduce abortions.

The bill would allow pharmacists to dispense self-administered birth control to adult patients subject to regulation by the state medical director. The bill also prohibits a pharmacist from prescribing birth control for more than 27 months if the patient hasn’t consulted with a physician.

The governor’s legislative liaison Molly Severn told lawmakers during the Monday hearing that if passed, the bill would allow Iowa women to better access birth control and reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies and reliance on government assistance.

The Federal Drug Administration recently approved an over-the-counter birth control pill, Opill, in July 2023. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C., currently offer over-the-counter birth control.

The panel of Iowa lawmakers considering the bill unanimously decided to pass the bill along to the whole Iowa House Health and Human Services Committee.

Iowa Rep. Barb Kniff McCulla, R-Pella, voted to move the bill forward due to the lack of resources for women to receive contraceptives without going to their physicians, although she does hold some concerns.

“I’m in the process of still trying to digest all of this, and I appreciate all of the concerns that individuals had and the pluses for this particular bill,” Kniff McCulla said. “I am going to move it forward, but I’m thinking that there’s going to be some more changes that are going to come down the pike before it ends up coming to the floor.”

Maggie DeWitte, the executive director of Pulse Life Advocates, an anti-abortion advocacy group, spoke in opposition to Reynold’s proposed bill.

DeWitte quoted studies on what she describes as dangers of contraceptives, including links between contraceptives and breast cancer, blood clots, heart disease, prevalence of autism spectrum disorder, depression, and suicide.

“These medications should not be prescribed by anybody except a medical doctor who has access to accurate medical records and necessary medical tests,” DeWitte said.

DeWitte also claimed that the use of oral contraception is a pre-implantation chemical abortion.

“Oral contraception can be abortifacients in nature,” DeWitte said. “Hormonal birth control drugs and devices including the patch and the pill can act to terminate a pregnancy by chemically altering the lining of the uterus so that a newly conceived child is unable to implant in the womb, less starving and dying.”

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A contraceptive thins the uterine wall which, in turn, stops the implantation of the fertilized egg. To those who believe pregnancy — and therefore, life — begins at fertilization, this may be seen as an abortion method.

Medically speaking, according to a Healthline report, pregnancy only begins when a fertilized egg is implanted, not when the egg is fertilized. Birth control prevents pregnancy; it is not designed to work as a termination method.

Kate Walton, a lobbyist for the Iowa Medical Society, spoke in support of the bill pointing to a national movement to increase access to birth control.

“The medical society has supported this bill and other states that have adopted it,” Walton said. “We feel that this provides an appropriate level of oversight and balancing access and communication back to the physician.”

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About the Contributor
Natalie Miller, Politics Reporter
(she/her)
Natalie Miller is a second-year student at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communications. Prior to her position as a Politics Reporter, Natalie was a News Reporter focusing on Higher Education.