Pharmacists prescribing contraception increases
choice and access for marginalized communities
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TIMESLEDGER | QNS.COM | JUNE 11-JUNE 17, 2021 13
BY TANNUJA ROZARIO
Our health care system continues to fail marginalized
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
socio-economic status, gender, sexual orientation,
race and immigration status.
These intersecting systems of oppression often
make it difficult 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
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
This can be especially true in marginalized
A 2019 study of four states that allow pharmacists
to prescribe control found that the policy
especially benefited 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
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 often than not, the availability
of contraception through the pharmacy is
There are the additional benefits 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 benefit from this policy; it’s the right
thing to do and the right time to do it.
Tannuja Rozario is a founding board member
of South Queens Women’s March.
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