Birth Control to Be Sold Over the Counter in New York Pharmacies

The News

New Yorkers will soon be able to get a year’s worth of hormonal birth control from pharmacies without a prescription.

The New York State Department of Health issued an order on Tuesday formally authorizing the measure, which was passed last year by the State Legislature and signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Under the law, pharmacists can dispense three different types of hormonal birth control to both New York residents and out-of-state visitors: birth control pills, vaginal rings and contraceptive patches. They will also offer counseling and information about the medication as well as the risks of H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Officials say the aim is to remove barriers to contraception access and safeguard reproductive freedoms while other states restrict them.

“This is about access to care, it’s about the individual autonomy, it’s about health equity,” said James McDonald, the state health commissioner. “But it’s also about protecting reproductive rights, which are all very core to the mission of the New York State Department of Health.”

Credit…Cindy Schultz for The New York Times

The Context

New York is hardly the first state to authorize pharmacists to distribute birth control, following more than two dozen others, including New Jersey, California and Oregon, that already allow some version of the practice.

But few states have done as much to establish themselves as safe harbors for reproductive care.

Just before the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022,Ms. Hochul allotted $35 million to support health care workers, anticipating an influx of out-of-state abortion seekers.

Soon after, lawmakers passed a bill to protect abortion providers from out-of state litigation and took the first steps toward enshrining a right to abortion in the State Constitution.

This year, in her proposed budget, Ms. Hochul called for spending $100 million to support reproductive health care providers.

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