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MI Expands Pharmacist Prescribing Authority to Aid Contraceptive Access

In response to the most recent Roe v Wade ruling, Michigan has increased pharmacist prescription authority of birth control to improve women’s contraceptive access.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has announced a new action expanding pharmacist prescribing authority, a scope of practice change that could make for easier contraceptive access in a post-Roe world.

“Today’s action clarifies that Michigan pharmacists with delegated authority can prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control—oral contraceptives, the patch, and the ring—expanding access to birth control for women across Michigan and ensuring that they can plan their own future on their own terms,” Governor Whitmer said in a public statement.

“As reproductive freedom is under attack across the nation, we are using every tool in our toolbox here in Michigan to protect women,” the governor continued. “Access to birth control is critical to a woman’s ability to plan her family and chart her own destiny. We are taking action to guarantee that Michigan women have the right to.”

Contraceptives continue to be legal in all states; however, past studies have shown that restrictive abortion policies disrupted patient access to reproductive healthcare and contraceptive use.

Governor Whitmer said she hopes to alleviate some of the burdens these new abortion laws may cause to reproductive care access. If pharmacists prescribe contraceptives, patient access to birth control will increase while the need for timely, costly, or hard-to-obtain medical exams decreases, the governor reasoned.

Additionally, the accessibility of pharmacists ensures patient care access.  Nearly nine out of 10 Americans live within five miles of a community pharmacy, making it an ideal care setting to address access gaps.

“This expansion allows for broader access to certain forms of birth control,” Natasha Bagdasarian, chief medical executive of the State of Michigan, said in a press release. “Nearly 30 percent of US women of childbearing age have reported difficulty obtaining or refilling birth control prescriptions.  Expanded access to hormonal contraceptives provides flexibility for women to manage their reproductive health outside their regularly scheduled healthcare appointments.”

This action from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) alters pharmacist scope of practice allowing them, in partnership with providers, to directly prescribe and dispense some hormonal birth control.

Under this legislation, licensed physicians can delegate to pharmacists the ability to prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control in the form of oral contraceptives, the patch, or the ring.

However, pharmacists are not required to prescribe hormonal contraception if they do not want to. LARA and the state of Michigan assure that pharmacists are well-qualified to prescribe hormonal  birth control because of their education and training, which includes a detailed understanding of the contents, impacts, and effects of drugs on the human body.

In the wake of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health decision, healthcare leaders around the country have responded to safeguard reproductive care access.

In August, Stanford Medicine leaders formed a committee of experts to address reproductive health equity concerns amid shifting abortion laws

The committee aims to determine the needs of diverse stakeholder groups, including Stanford Medicine employees, who are affected by current legal decisions and are looking for input on actions they should take in the near and long term future, the press release stated.

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