By Corinne Murdock |
Former Gov. Doug Ducey enacted the birth control deregulation that took effect earlier this month, but Gov. Katie Hobbs is taking the credit.
In a press release, Hobbs framed the deregulation as timely on her part considering that “extremists across the country” have been threatening access to contraceptives.
“Reproductive freedom is critical to the individuals and families working hard to create a life for themselves in Arizona,” said Hobbs. “We are building an Arizona for everyone, which means ensuring people across the state have what they need to live a free and healthy life. I will never stop fighting to protect freedoms for Arizonans and standing up to the extremists who threaten access to the basic healthcare our families rely on.”
However, Ducey signed the deregulation into law through SB1082 in 2021. Former State Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Republican, introduced the legislation.
It took several years for Arizona’s regulatory agencies to secure final approval for the deregulation, mainly due to delay on the part of the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy (ASBP). SB1082 directed the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy (ASBP) to work with the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) to adopt procedural rules for pharmacies to distribute the contraceptives.
During ASBP’s final discussion of rulemaking on the deregulation last month, ASBP Executive Director Kam Gandhi explained that they prioritized other issues.
“We’re just now getting to it, but obviously over the last two, three years, we’ve had other challenges and that was more pressing than hormonal contraceptives,” said Gandhi.
The Governor’s Regulatory Review Council (GRRC) issued the final approval.
Under the deregulation, Arizonans over 18 years old no longer need to secure a prescription in order to buy hormonal birth control or contraceptives. Instead, those seeking the contraceptives will need to receive a blood pressure test and annual screening at the pharmacy. Pharmacists retain the right to refuse to dispense contraceptives if they believe the drug would pose a harm to the patient, or if contraceptives violate their religious or moral beliefs.
Pharmacists are also required to tell the patient when and how to use the contraceptive, the risks associated with the contraceptive, and when to seek medical assistance while taking the contraceptive.
As part of the deregulation, ASBP expanded pharmacists’ continuing education requirements to mandate three hours minimum on hormonal contraceptives prior to receiving a license renewal every two years.
The ASBP discussed implementing the legislation during a Task Force Rule Writing Work Group meeting last September that included Lisa Villarroel with AZDHS and Laura Mercer with the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).
In drafting the procedural rules, ASBP relied on precedent established by the 21 other states that allow pharmacists to distribute birth control without a prescription. Those states are Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawai’i, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia (in their documentation, ASBP recognized the District of Columbia as a state, which made their total 22 states).