Hochul signs bills expanding access to reproductive health care

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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New Yorkers next year won’t have to go through their doctors to get prescription contraceptives under a bill that Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed into law Tuesday as part of her administration’s efforts to expand reproductive rights in the state.

Under the law that will take effect in November 2024, trained pharmacists will be able to distribute self-administered hormonal contraceptives including oral birth control pills, vaginal rings, and the patch to New Yorkers, even if patients don’t have a prescription from their doctor or nurse practitioner.

The legislation is “part of a long journey to find more ways to protect the rights of women in the state of New York,” Hochul said. “We’re going to do everything in our power to stop the backslide while expanding reproductive rights here in our state.”

Under the law, doctors and nurse practitioners will be able to send pharmacists prescriptions for such contraceptives that don’t list the names of specific patients. After a patient fills out a self-screening risk assessment questionnaire to help a pharmacist identify any risk factors and decide on an appropriate contraceptive, the pharmacist would fill in the patient’s name on the relevant prescription.

Indiana passed legislation similar to New York’s this week. Oregon was the first state to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control in 2016.

Under the New York legislation, pharmacists will have to undergo training that will be outlined by the state’s health commissioner. After dispensing the contraceptives, they would have to notify the patient’s primary healthcare practitioner, if the patient has one. Pharmacists will also be allowed to refuse to dispense contraceptives if they think it would endanger a patient’s health.

Hochul also signed a second bill requiring schools in the State University of New York and City University of New York systems to provide on-campus access to abortion medication or provide students with referrals to someone who can prescribe such medication.


Maysoon Khan is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Maysoon Khan on Twitter.