Birth Control

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Birth control is legal in California. If you plan to have sex and don’t want to get pregnant, you have a number of options for birth control, including condoms, the pill, the ring, and the IUD. Talk to your doctor, go to a family planning clinic, or check out www.bedsider.org to learn more about your birth control options. Most private insurance plans cover birth control at no cost. There are also free or low-cost programs in California that can help pay for birth control if you need it.

Can I get birth control directly from a pharmacist?

Yes. In California, you can now get your birth control prescription and have it filled directly by a pharmacist, without going to see a doctor or clinician. People of any age can access birth control that you can administer yourself, such as the pill, patch, or vaginal ring. You still have to go to a doctor’s office or clinic if you want something that a medical professional has to insert, such as an IUD or hormonal implant.

How much birth control can I get at once?

As of January 1, 2017, you might be able to get up to a year’s supply of FDA-approved self-administered contraceptives (like the birth control pill, the patch, or the ring) at once and upon request. Medi-Cal managed care and commercial health plans will have to cover this much supply.

Can the pharmacist refuse to give me birth control?

In California, pharmacies that stock birth control drugs and devices must give patients timely access to them and cannot turn you away. A pharmacist cannot prevent you from obtaining birth control because you aren’t married or because it conflicts with the pharmacist’s personal or religious beliefs. The pharmacy must have rules in place to ensure that, whatever the pharmacist’s personal views, you can obtain the medicine you need.

If you are denied birth control, ask to speak to the manager or other staff member. You can say “It’s my legal right to purchase birth control at your pharmacy. I’d like to speak to another staff member or your manager.” If the pharmacist refuses to give you birth control, write down their name and the name of the pharmacy, and call the ACLU at 415-621-2488.