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Indiana bill allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control goes to Senate committee this week

Hands holding five containers of birth control pills
Sharon Waldron
Democratic Indiana Rep. Rita Fleming is hopeful legislation that would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control will pass this session.

House Bill 1568 would allow pharmacists to prescribe hormonal birth control to people 18 and older without having to see a health care provider first.

It passed the state House last month and was referred to the Senate Committee on Health and Provider Services, where it’s expected to be heard Wednesday.

Democratic Representative Rita Fleming of Jeffersonville is a co-author, and started pushing for the measure several years ago. She said it will help people access contraception by taking away the hurdle of having to see a provider.

“I think it’s what we owe to women because it's a health issue, it’s a maternal mortality issue, it’s a workforce issue, it’s a state financial issue,” Fleming said.

Pharmacists who want to prescribe birth control would have to undergo training, give patients a self-screening risk assessment and refer patients to their primary care providers. The prescriptions could be good for up to six months at a time. Patients would need to visit a health care provider to get a pharmacists’ prescription for longer than 12 months.

Fleming, a retired OB-GYN, has advocated for measures to support the health of pregnant people in Indiana since she took office in late 2018. She said HB 1568 is even more important now, as the future of abortion access in the state is uncertain.

“We know that you're not going to have an abortion if you're not pregnant,” she said. “And with more than half of the pregnancies in Indiana being unintended, unplanned, one way to decrease abortions is to help women have access to birth control.”

Recent legislative attempts by Fleming and other lawmakers include House Bill 1224, which she introduced in January, but which didn’t make it past the committee stage. Fleming also tried to add similar language in an amendment to a spending bill during the special summer session last year, but it failed by one vote.

Republican Sen. Sue Glick of LaGrange also tried unsuccessfully to get the measure passed at least twice last year: once during the regular session and as an amendment to the abortion bill she authored during the special session.

The bill’s main author is Republican Rep. Elizabeth Rowray of Yorktown.

Coverage of Southern Indiana is funded, in part, by Samtec, Inc. and the Hazel & Walter T. Bales Foundation.

Aprile Rickert is LPM's Southern Indiana reporter. Email Aprile at arickert@lpm.org.

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