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Bill would ease access to birth control for minors, others in Michigan

Closeup pharmacist hand holding medicine box in pharmacy drugstore.
Michigan pharmacists can prescribe birth control through a collaborative agreement process set out by the state, but few do. A set of bills would make prescribing clearer and easier. (Shutterstock)
  • Twelve House Democrats have moved legislation forward that would expand birth control options
  • The bills would allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, regardless of a patient’s age, and require insurers to cover those products
  • Republicans in the House Health Policy Committee tried to add an age restriction. It failed

House Democrats Thursday moved forward legislation that could make it easier to obtain birth control in Michigan, no matter what age the patient.

Under a two-bill package, pharmacists would be able to prescribe and dispense hormonal contraceptives — pills, patches or a vaginal ring — and, further, insurers would be required to cover those products. 

The proposed legislation would cover emergency contraception, or the so-called “morning after pill,” as well.


The bills are sponsored by Reps. Kara Hope, D-Holt, and Stephanie Young, D-Detroit.


A third bill, introduced by Rep. Julie Rogers, D-Kalamazoo, would require insurers to cover 12 months of birth control at a time. A patient would still be responsible for any copays, deductibles or coinsurance that apply under their coverage plan.

The vote is a small movement in that the three bills now move to the full House and then, possibly, to the Senate, where Democrats have a 56-54 seat advantage. If the Senate passes the bills with no changes, they would move to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.

But in the larger, post Roe-v.-Wade world, the legislation is part of Michigan’s shift to expand reproductive health care options and access to abortion, even as other states move to restrict those options.

Voters in 2022 made abortion a constitutional right in Michigan. Last year, Whitmer signed bills repealing a ban on so-called ‘partial-birth abortions’ and lifting other abortion restrictions. Last month, the ACLU of Michigan and others called for an end to Michigan’s requirement for parental consent before a minor can obtain an abortion.

The bills that moved Thursday will make birth control more affordable and increase access, especially in contraceptive health deserts, where patients lack access to regular providers and a full spectrum of birth control options, Young has said.

Some neighborhoods may have several pharmacies, she said, “but it’s more and more difficult to get into the doctors or ob-gyn’s office.”

As it stands now, CVS pharmacists in Michigan have a collaborative practice agreement with doctors to be able to prescribe birth control in CVS pharmacies, said Mary Beth O'Connell, a professor of pharmacy practice at Wayne State University

If signed into law, the bills would expand access by establishing a standardized process for all pharmacists who wish to prescribe birth control and, importantly, enable them to be reimbursed.

Still, it will be up to pharmacists whether they will do so, O’Connell noted: “Some Republican pharmacists don't believe in birth control and some other pharmacists … feel uncomfortable or haven't been trained.”

Voting down party lines, the 19-member House Health Policy committee Thursday moved the bills forward to the full House, with 12 Democrats giving the bills a thumbs-up and the all seven Republicans voting against or passing on a vote.

The Republicans attempted to tweak the bills.

Rep. Curt VanderWall, R, Ludington, attempted to add an age restriction, so that pharmacists would only be able to prescribe birth control to adults.

Rep. Jamie Thompson, R-Brownstown, attempted to require that people who are prescribed birth control by a pharmacist see a doctor at least once every two years.

“I feel very strongly these decisions need to be amongst family,” VanderWall told Bridge later. “If it's an adult — that's great. But if it's a minor child, you know, we still want the parents to be involved.”


The 12 Democrats remained united, voting down both suggested changes without discussion.

The committee Thursday did agree to change the wording to prohibit a patient from filling a 12-month prescription if their coverage is set to expire within the month.

At a committee hearing in March, VanderWall had questioned the cost of a 12-month supply of birth control, including the ability of a person whose coverage is about to end to stock up for the year, which he suggested could be a “burden” to insurers.

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