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Hirono, Colleagues Reintroduce Access to Birth Control Act

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) joined Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA), and 21 colleagues in reintroducing the Access to Birth Control Act, legislation that would guarantee patients’ timely access to birth control at pharmacies nationwide—including by addressing pharmacies’ refusals of contraception that prevent patients from obtaining their preferred form of birth control medication. U.S. Representative Robin Kelly (D-IL) introduced companion legislation in the House.

Contraception is an essential part of reproductive health care, and protecting access to contraception at the pharmacy is more important than ever given the relentless attacks on reproductive health care currently ongoing throughout the country. In addition to ensuring that patients have access to contraception at the pharmacy without delay, the bill would also ensure that pharmacies do not operate an environment where patients are intimidated, threatened, or harassed when seeking access to contraception or medication related to contraception. In the event that a pharmacy violates one of these requirements, the bill establishes liability for civil penalties for the pharmacy and a private cause of action for patients to seek relief.

Although Supreme Court precedent recognizes a protected right to contraception, conservatives on the Court have ignored precedent to undermine reproductive rights. In the radical Dobbs decision, the Court reversed the nearly 50-year precedent of Roe v. Wade that guaranteed a right to access abortion care. Access to contraception in the United States should not hinge on the Supreme Court’s ideological balance or the willingness of individual pharmacists to fill prescriptions. Providers, including pharmacists, play a key role in providing contraceptive services and important information about prescription and over-the-counter birth control options to people across the country.  

According to the National Women’s Law Center, pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions for birth control or provide emergency contraception over the counter to patients in 24 states and the District of Columbia. These refusals are based on personal beliefs and can negatively impact a patient’s health. Additionally, these refusals disproportionately affect people of color, low-income people, LGBTQ people, and those who live in rural and other underserved areas.   

In addition to Senators Hirono, Booker, and Murray, this legislation is cosponsored by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Laphonza Butler (D-CA), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Alex Padilla (D-CA), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Tina Smith (D-MN), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Mark Warner (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

The full text of the legislation is available here.