Indiana lawmaker pushes for Hoosiers to have better access to birth control

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – State Representative Rita Fleming is pushing to get Hoosier women better access to birth control. She introduced House Bill 1141 which would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills or the patch over the counter.

HB 1141 also aims to address several other issues including access to doctors and workplace availability.

The March of Dimes Indiana is a supporter of the bill. They say many times it’s all about accessibility for women, and a lot of times, women don’t have adequate access to care in their communities. Those situations could range from not having enough sick leave or paid time off to go to the doctor if their availability doesn’t match up with their doctors or childcare issues.

“We feel by allowing pharmacists to be able to at least help our Hoosier families plan their pregnancies and offer these family planning services will provide better access to care,” said Jeena Siela, Director of Maternal and Child Health at March of Dimes Indiana. “They can go to Walmart, the Kroger pharmacy while they are doing their grocery shopping and you know get the screening and therefore get the family planning services that are right for them.”

If HB 1141 is passed a woman could go to a pharmacy and get a health screening. The pharmacist would complete a health screening including looking at the woman’s blood pressure. If there are no issues, the pharmacist could give the woman the patch or the pill right away.

The bill also addresses the issue of infant and maternal mortality in the state. Governor Holcomb said it’s his goal to be the best in the Midwest by 2024.

“We know that our pre-term birth rate needs to decrease, it rose in 2018 from 9.8 to 10.2 and so we know again that’s directly linked to our infant mortality numbers,” said Siela. “It’s not going in the right direction and we’d love to see easier better access to family planning options again for our families so that we can have those planned pregnancies.”

Siela says planned pregnancies are so important, and this bill will address the common issues women go through.

“As far as numbers and data go, as far as access to obstetricians and gynecologists, we have in Indiana over a third of our counties do not have an obstetrician and or a delivering hospital, and I think that does have implications for this as well,” said Siela. “If, again, our women want to get into their OB to talk about birth control they might have to cross county lines or multiple county lines to find an OB, and then again it gets into scheduling. Do they have enough time away from work or their children or do they have transportation to get them to that obstetrician that might be a few counties away to get those birth control options.”

“The rate of unintended pregnancy in the U.S. is 45%,” said Rep. Fleming. “It is not because women are careless, it is more often an issue of provider availability and access.”

In order for the bill to pass through the house, it needs to first be heard in the Public Health Committee. There’s no date set for that yet.

At 8:20 a.m. Tuesday, Rep. Fleming will talk more about HB 1141 at a press conference in New Albany, Indiana.

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