WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES JUNE 10, 2021 13
Pharmacists prescribing contraception increases
choice and access for marginalized communities
BY TANNUJA ROZARIO
Our health care system continues to fail marginalized
communities. During the COVID
pandemic there was more discussion around
this inequity than we have seen in the past, especially
as media outlets began to cover the systemwide
failure in earnest.
The conversation included disparities in sexual
and reproductive health care and services. Access
to such services can be dependent on one’s socioeconomic
status, gender, sexual orientation, race
and immigration status. These intersecting systems
of oppression oft en make it diffi cult for people to
access birth control. By authorizing pharmacists to
prescribe and dispense contraceptives, we can create
a brand-new access point for all New Yorkers, including
many marginalized communities.
New York State is falling behind, as nearly 20
states already authorize pharmacists to prescribe
and dispense contraception. Currently, obtaining
a prescription for birth control can be costly and
inconvenient for many New Yorkers. This can be
especially true in marginalized communities. A
2019 study of four states that allow pharmacists to
prescribe control found that the policy especially
benefi ted patients who were younger, more likely to
be uninsured or lived far from a provider but close
to a pharmacy.
Allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraception
can alleviate barriers to access. When trained
pharmacists prescribe contraceptives, they counsel
patients and perform the necessary health checks
and patients are able to obtain their prescription
and contraception during one visit to the pharmacy.
Marginalized communities are more likely to experience
barriers which include a lack of transportation,
securing child care, balancing work or school
schedules for appointments, or costly provider visits.
The cost of a provider visit can become especially
burdensome for the uninsured. For those patients
who live closer to a pharmacy than a provider, which
is more oft en than not, the availability of contraception
through the pharmacy is more convenient.
There are the additional benefi ts of not needing to
schedule an appointment and pharmacies being open
in the evenings and on weekends. It’s undeniable that
this policy increases access to all New Yorkers, but it
can be essential for those who have the hardest time
obtaining the birth control they want.
This year, legislation to authorize pharmacists
in New York to prescribe contraception was introduced
in the state Senate and the Assembly. If New
York passes this legislation, it will expand access to
reproductive health care and improve health equity
through accessible family planning resources. New
Yorkers across the state stand to benefi t from this
policy; it’s the right thing to do and the right time to
Tannuja Rozario is a founding board member of
South Queens Women’s March.
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