Local health officials are questioning a plan to increase access to birth control for women in Missouri. The Missouri House wants pharmacists to have the ability to prescribe oral contraceptives.
The proposal now heading to the Senate would give women birth control prescriptions for a year at a time after their first three month prescription from a doctor. You would need to visit a doctor within three years of the first prescription to continue getting contraception.
Local pharmacist Greg Gilmore with Grand Pharmacy is Hannibal says access is a good thing for women, but he hopes pharmacists continue to stress to their patients see a doctor regularly.
"I would still encourage patients to see their physician on a regular basis and have their checkups regularly, but this is definitely going to increase access, which is what the bill is for," Gilmore said.
If this bill is approved, girls under 18 would have to show the pharmacist a doctor's previous prescription.
Supporters say more access will reduce abortions.
Dr. Sandra Ahlum with Hannibal Clinic has a different idea.
"This is not over the counter access. And so, over the counter access would even improve more access for women," Dr. Ahlum said. "And so I think if our legislature wants to do something to really increase access, then maybe they should make it over the counter."
Dr. Ahlum says another issue is that oral contraceptives may not be the best choice for some women, and that's why going through a doctor should be the preferred choice. She also says that regular screenings at clinics can also catch STD's.