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Governor Signs Bill Easing Access to Birth Control

Under a new law, women won't have to see a doctor to obtain birth control. Governor says California is "expanding access" and "empowering women."

A bill by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City, allowing registered nurses to dispense birth control in clinics was signed into law Saturday at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Headquarters.

"At a time when some seek to turn back the clock and restrict women’s health choices, California is expanding access to birth control and reaffirming every woman’s basic Constitutional rights," Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.

AB 2348 takes effect Jan. 1. Under the new law, registered nurses may dispense and administer birth control according to standard procedures set by doctors. Currently, doctors are required to sign off on each prescription.

Mitchell's office said the law expands access to family planning options, especially in under-served rural and inner-city areas, where "women have to wait for hours in medical offices or weeks for an appointment to obtain contraception, barriers which leave women at significant risk of unintended pregnancy."

It was opposed by the California Association for Nurse Practitioners, which argued patients should undergo medical assessments to review potential risks and family history and then "make an informed determination" as to which medication they should take.

Under the new law, "the patient does not get a written order that can be filled at a pharmacy," the association wrote in its opposition to the bill. "Instead, the patient is handed the supply of medications that has been determined by the RN to be appropriate for a particular patient."

Patients who have been seen exclusively be a registered nurse for three years in a row will be required to be evaluated by a doctor, nurse practitioner or certified nurse-midwife before they continue to receive birth control.

"Instead of shrinking back and trying to take away women's health care services or birth control, we're empowering women, and we do it proudly," Brown reportedly said Saturday at Planned Parenthood.

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