NEW JERSEY – On the one-year anniversary of Governor Phil Murphy signing the historic Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, the Governor signed additional legislation Friday to further the State’s ongoing efforts to secure and expand access to reproductive health care.
The bill (S-275) will allow New Jersey pharmacists to dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptives to patients without requiring a prescription.
Patients are typically unable to access self-administered hormonal contraceptives, including contraceptive pills, patches, and rings, in New Jersey without first obtaining a prescription from a licensed health care provider. To reduce barriers to access to this critical family planning tool, the bill requires the issuance of a standing order authorizing pharmacists to furnish self-administered hormonal contraceptives to patients without an individual prescription and identifying the contraceptives that pharmacists are authorized to dispense.
“While many other states are working to restrict access to reproductive health care – including contraceptives – our state continues to protect this fundamental right and expand access to this critical care on behalf of all who need it,” Murphy said. “The current requirement of an individualized prescription imposes an unnecessary burden on people who may be unable to afford or find the time to go to a health care provider for a prescription. Removing that requirement will promote health equity and ease of access to contraceptives in order to empower women to make their own reproductive choices.
This legislation comes at a time when other states are allowing health care providers, health care institutions, and pharmacists to refuse to provide contraceptives or family planning care.
As such, access to contraception without a prescription will not be limited solely to New Jersey residents. New Jersey pharmacists will be permitted to provide these contraceptives to patients regardless of the patient’s residency.
In order to dispense self-administered hormonal contraceptives to patients without a prescription under the bill, pharmacists will have to follow standardized procedures and protocols adopted jointly by the Board of Pharmacy and the State Board of Medical Examiners and complete a training program.
“New Jersey is a leader in protecting reproductive health and rights,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This law removes access barriers to hormonal contraceptives and puts in place the necessary safeguards and protocols that will protect patient health, safety and privacy for New Jersey’s residents.”
The bill is part of the Murphy Administration’s ongoing efforts, in partnership with legislative and community partners, to protect the right to reproductive freedom and expand access to reproductive health care. Since the signing of the Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act, other actions have included:
- Making grants and zero-interest, forgivable loans available to reproductive health care providers to support facility and security upgrades;
- Enacting protections for reproductive health care providers and out-of-state residents seeking reproductive services in New Jersey;
- Creating a ‘Reproductive Rights Strike Force’ to initiate civil and criminal enforcement actions and develop strategic initiatives to protect access to reproductive health care on behalf of residents from New Jersey and other states, including through guidance to State licensing boards, to health care providers and other licensees, and to consumers on patient and provider rights;
- Initiating rulemaking to require coverage for abortion services without exceptions starting on January 1, 2023 under the health benefits plans regulated by the Department of Banking and Insurance;
- Making funding available to Rutgers University to create and implement the “New Jersey Reproductive Training and Education Initiative;” and
- Expanding funding for the state family planning program, which includes clinics in every county.