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Women Can Get Birth Control Without Prescription In California

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Women now have a new option when it comes to getting birth control in California without a prescription.

It's not technically over-the-counter, but you can get hormonal contraceptives from a pharmacist after filling out a questionnaire.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law allowing this in 2013, but it's taken this long to draft the protocol for pharmacists to follow.

Now, any women, regardless of age, can get birth control without stepping into a doctor's office.

Karla Thompson, 21, says it's a welcome change, but her mother Maria Klaiber has an issue with it.

"Under 21, I don't think you should have the freedom to have birth control over the counter," Klaiber said.

Pharmacist Harpreet Gill is one of many who can now legally distribute hormonal contraceptives to women of any age without a prescription.

"There's a huge demand. It's one of the fastest moving prescriptions and medications we dispense here," Gill said.

At Natomas Pharmacy, the change has allowed it to expand services. Each woman must fill out a 20-question form and consult a pharmacist before a bill, patch, shot, or vaginal ring is provided.

Gill says that consultation will likely prove to be the most delicate part.

"We'll have some challenges. We'll really have to figure out what age is appropriate, you know? Or what age makes us for us to be able treat them versus going to the doctor," Gill said.

Virginia Herold says the California State Board of Pharmacy has been drafting protocol since it was signed into law three years ago.

"We think it's a step forward in public health," she said. "What we encourage on the self-screening questionnaire is that women download it from their computer, fill it out and call the pharmacy before they go in to make sure that the pharmacy is ready to use this service."

While advocates say the law provides better access for women, Klaiber says she just can't get on board with the new approach, but it does provide an opportunity for more dialogue with her daughter.

"I don't think birth control should be so easily accessible, and that's definitely a good issue for a mom and her daughter to discuss," she said.

A similar law went into effect in Oregon in January, but it does not allow girls under 18 to get it without a prescription.

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