Gov. McMaster signs bill expanding women’s access to contraception in SC | Palmetto Policy

COLUMBIA — Birth control pills will soon be available in South Carolina without a prescription, under a law signed into law by Gov. Henry McMaster on May 23 to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies that could end in an abortion.

From December, the pills and other hormonal contraceptives should be available without a doctor’s visit. The state boards of pharmacists and medical examiners must first write the rules for pharmacists who want to participate, such as training and documentation requirements. The law gives them up to six months to do this.

“If South Carolina is going to be a pro-life state, we need to give people the tools to avoid unwanted pregnancies,” McMaster told reporters last week about his intentions to sign the treaty. The law “makes it easier. So that’s a good move.”

Advocates said eliminating the first step of a required doctor visit makes it cheaper and easier for women to prevent pregnancy. Getting just one doctor’s appointment can be difficult, especially in rural areas where there may not be a single family doctor. But even small towns have several pharmacy options.

For decades, South Carolina lawmakers have attempted to restrict abortion by “focusing almost exclusively on reducing access to the procedure,” said pill measure sponsor Senator Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, citing the approach short-sighted or “at a minimal, inadequate.”

“We also need to focus on how to reduce the need to even think about abortion,” he said. “And with the Pharmacy Access Act, the legislature did just that.”

He hopes it “sets the stage” for the broader abortion debate to come.


A look at what the SC Legislature did and didn't do in 2022

In the coming weeks, the US Supreme Court could deliver the landmark Roe v. Wade’s 1973 law that legalized abortion nationwide.

Before South Carolina’s regular session ended on May 12, lawmakers approved an opportunity to return to a special session after June, but to respond to decisions by the nation’s Supreme Court on Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban. A draft statement written by Judge Samuel Alito in February and recently leaked to Politico shows a majority is willing to accept Roe v. knocking out Wade, which would leave lawmakers across the country to set the rules for their own state.

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Aside from making it easier for women to prevent pregnancy, lawmakers from across the political spectrum — no matter how passionate they are on either side of the abortion debate — should also work to empower mothers emotionally and emotionally during pregnancy and after their babies are born Born to support financially, Davis said.

He promised to do so during forthcoming debates.


Bill to limit SC abortions by again expanding access to birth control advances

If Roe v. Wade is lifted, McMaster has said he supports a total abortion ban in South Carolina with no exceptions. But even many Republican lawmakers in South Carolina weren’t willing to go that far.

Last year, McMaster signed legislation making abortion illegal as soon as an ultrasound detects a heartbeat, which can be as early as six weeks of pregnancy. This law has been blocked by the courts, but these challenges could be overturned by the judges’ decision. Efforts by some GOP lawmakers to remove exemptions for victims of rape or incest from this ban have been thwarted.

Davis’ recipe bill grew out of that fight. He tried unsuccessfully to expand access to birth control by inserting a change in the heartbeat measurement. When that didn’t work, he launched the special law that the Senate passed unanimously last year. It was held up indoors, in part by lawmakers who said women needed to see a doctor first.

Lawmakers gave final approval to the bill within minutes of its regular session, which ended on May 12.

“In an ideal world, everyone should have access to a GP and be able to sit down and discuss all of their health needs. But we don’t live in a perfect world,” Davis said. “If they ask that they go to a doctor to get a prescription for contraception, as a practical matter they may not get it.”

He said he would feel differently if the birth control pill, which was first approved by federal authorities in 1960, didn’t have such a long and recognized track record.

South Carolina is the 15th state to allow pharmacists to offer contraceptives to women without a patient-specific prescription. North Carolina’s law went into effect earlier this year.

Currently, only condoms and emergency contraception — known as the morning-after pill or Plan B — are available in South Carolina without a prescription.

Follow Sean Adcox on Twitter at @seannaadcox_pc.

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