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Access to contraception is critical to public health as part of basic health care. Providing birth control and emergency contraception is 40% of what Planned Parenthood health centers do in California. Contraception prevents unintended pregnancies and enables women to more effectively plan when and if they become pregnant.
Methods of birth control have been around for thousands of years, helping women and men to plan their families. Access to these methods has been threatened at different times throughout history, but today there are many safe and effective methods of birth control available to us.
If you are interested in medical or health information about birth control, please visit the Planned Parenthood clinical page on birth control.
Planned Parenthood Action Funds in California seek to promote public policy and legislation which:
Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) believes that individuals have the right to access methods of birth control and contraception of their choice regardless of income status. As a result, PPAC has worked with coalition partners to introduce several pieces of legislation that have become law:
SB 644 (Ortiz) – Patient Prescription Protection Act
This law ensures a patient's right to basic health care and also protects a pharmacist's right to abide by his or her ethical, moral or religious beliefs. California's pharmacy law was silent on a pharmacist's duty to fill a prescription. Prior to this legislation, the Pharmacy Act only authorizes licensed pharmacists to dispense medication, among other things. This gap in the law has allowed licensed pharmacists to refuse to dispense medications that have been lawfully prescribed.
SB 490 (Alpert) and SB 545 (Speier) – Emergency Contraception Access
These laws increase the access to emergency contraception (EC). SB 490 authorizes a pharmacist to furnish emergency contraception (EC) in accordance with a standardized procedure or protocol developed and approved by the Medical Board of California and Board of Pharmacy, in consultation with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. SB 545 eliminates the consultation fee that is currently charged by pharmacists and instead allows pharmacists to charge a "dispensing fee" of no more than $10. These important measures ensure that uninsured and underserved women will have access to EC and that women will have greater access to this important contraceptive option on weekends and holidays. When used within 72 hours of unprotected sex, EC reduces a woman's chances of becoming pregnant by up to 89 percent.
SB 1169 (Alpert) – Emergency Contraception in Pharmacies
A landmark statute, SB 1169 will serve to greatly improve access to emergency contraception throughout the state by authorizing a pharmacist to initiate the EC therapy in accordance with standardized protocols developed by the pharmacist and an authorized prescriber. The governor, who signed the bill in October, helped facilitate an important step in the battle against unintended and teen pregnancy.
AB 1860 (Migden) – Emergency Contraception for Victims of Sexual Assault
Effective January 1, 2003, health care providers that perform evidentiary examinations in hospitals and designated rape crisis centers are required to provide information regarding the risk of pregnancy to female victims of sexual assault, as well as information regarding emergency contraception. In addition, these health care providers are required to dispense emergency contraception to those women who request it. Until now, some California health care providers have not dispensed emergency contraception to victims of sexual assault, and many women have not been aware that it is an option.
AB 39 (Hertzberg)/SB 41 (Speier) – The Women's Contraceptive Equity Act
The bill required all health insurance plans provide prescription benefit packages for Federal Drug Administration-approved methods of contraception, providing a narrow exemption for certain religious employers. Other versions of the bill had been vetoed by then-Governor Pete Wilson twice – in 1995 and 1998 – highlighting the importance of Davis' signature on this historic piece of legislation.