Illinois recently became the second state in the Midwest to legalize over-the-counter birth control. In late July, Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed HB 0135 into law, allowing trained pharmacists to provide patients up to a year of hormonal birth control without a prescription.
The law, which goes into effect January 1, will require patients to undergo only a brief self-screening and counseling with the pharmacist to obtain their birth control.
Reproductive rights advocates have been fighting for access to over-the-counter birth control for years, arguing that it would make contraception more accessible and bring us one step closer to reproductive freedom for all.
Lawmakers in Illinois agreed.
“Family planning and reproductive health care is a personal choice that should not be limited by economic or social status,” said Democratic state Sen. Melinda Bush, the bill’s co-sponsor. “I thank my colleagues and Gov. Pritzker for taking strides toward creating a more equitable health care system through providing greater access to contraceptives.”
The Illinois law will require Medicaid and other insurance plans to cover birth control obtained directly from pharmacists, ensuring that it doesn’t end up costing patients more than birth control prescribed by a physician.
The need for over-the-counter birth control became even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic, when existing barriers to care were exacerbated and demand for easier access was at an all-time high. “When you have to stay home, and as more resources are directed toward the public health crisis, requiring that prescription for birth control is a particularly challenging barrier at this time,” Britt Wahlin of Ibis Reproductive Health told Rewire News Group last April.
After taking office in 2019, Pritzker vowed to make Illinois “the most progressive state in the nation for access to reproductive health care.” The governor signed the Reproductive Health Act five months later, establishing access to abortion and other reproductive health care as a fundamental right.
This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.