COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – Next week, the South Carolina House could take up a bill that would allow pharmacists to dispense birth control to a patient without the need for a prescription.

The Pharmacy Access Act (S.628) passed the South Carolina Senate unanimously in 2021

The legislation was stalled in the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee until this March. It was recalled and sent to the House Medical, Military and Public Municipal Affairs (3-M) Committee.

It passed the 3-M Committee this week and is on the House’s calendar for next week. There are two full weeks left in the legislative session so it will need to pass soon for it to have a chance at becoming law this year.

The bill would allow pharmacists to dispense contraceptives in South Carolina without a prescription. Right now, pharmacists can only give birth control if there is a patient specific written order from a doctor.

Supporters said this would make birth control more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription.

Representative Russell Ott (D-Calhoun) has urged his fellow House members to pass the bill this year. “If we want to get serious and not play politics about cutting down on things like abortions or decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies, than we gotta get real and do things like this.”

The South Carolina Women’s Rights & Empowerment Network (WREN) said this bill would help women living in rural areas of South Carolina.

Director of Policy and Government Relations Ashley Crary Lidow said the legislation has a bigger impact than just a woman and her family, “We’re looking at increased education attainment, workforce participation, lifetime earnings. When we’re thinking about economic benefits.”

The regular legislative session ends May 12th.