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Birth Control Pills Will Soon Be Available Over-The-Counter In California

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) -- Birth control pills will soon be available at California pharmacies without a prescription.

Current law requires women in California to get a prescription for the Pill. That will likely change as early as April when regulators are slated to implement a law that has already been approved.

UCSF School of Medicine Claire Brindis says the change could have far reaching implications.

"One of the most exciting aspects of this is that we're eliminating further barriers that traditionally have potentially blocked women from getting an appointment and then are waiting for a long time to get an appointment."

The new law was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013 making birth control pills available over-the-counter, as well as some vaccines and nicotine replacement drugs.

"With the availability of the Affordable Care Act women no longer have to pay for birth control out of pocket, so this really gives them an opportunity to access birth control without having to go through all the necessary extra steps.

The law covers pills, patches, and a shot. There's no age restriction and but women will be required to fill out a questionnaire and provide information about pregnancy, cigarette smoking and breast cancer history.

"There are number of countries where researchers have conducted studies about the effectiveness of birth control showing it to be very effective and very safe," said Brindis. "We hope that this will help to reduce the level of unintended pregnancy that is so rampant in our country."

Critics have argued that not requiring a doctors visit to get birth control could reduce the number of women who get tested for STDs and breast cancer.

Pharmacies won't be required to offer birth control.

California will be the third state to eliminate the need for a prescription. Oregon made the change in January, and Washington state has had a similar law on the books for more than 30 years. Hawaii, New Mexico and Alaska are expected to follow suit.

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