D.C. Council Considers Controversial Birth Control Bill

6:51 PM, Feb 16, 2011   |    comments
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) -- A bill now under consideration by the D.C. Council is creating a lot of buzz. The proposal from council member David Catania would allow women to get birth control pills directly from a pharmacist, without a doctor's visit or a prescription.

The bill is intended to give access to contraception to women who may not be able to afford a doctor's visit. But this afternoon, it is raising some serious questions.

The pills would not be dispensed over the counter, but according to the bill, pharmacists would work with individual customers to provide the safest options.

"Easy access? It's good and bad," said a woman who's still on the fence about the bill.

In Dupont Circle, reaction to the bill was overwhelmingly positive.

"I think it's good for girls who are afraid to tell their parents that they want to go on birth control. They can just go and do it themselves. Save themselves a lot of hassle in the end," said one D.C. resident.

"I think it's a good idea because it's a person's right to choose, first of all. And then, second of all, it will save the cost of health care," a pregnant woman told us.

Observed a man, "I think that access to birth control would control them from having a child they don't want to have."

"Oh we think it's dangerous for women," said Johanna Dasteel of the American Life League. The nation's largest, grassroots pro-life organization is among the groups that are vehemently opposed to the bill.

"It is a group one carcinogen, classified by the World Health Organization. This is about medicine. About medical ethics. It should not be a political matter," said Dasteel.

Said another woman, "Not knowing enough about it to have a strong opinion, I would say that makes sense, assuming they would be over 18, correct?"

If the bill becomes law, that's a question to be answered by the DC Boards of Pharmacy and Medicine, which would come up with guidelines for the pills' distribution.

A spokesman for Council member Catania said there are still several elements of the bill to work out, including whether or not insurance companies would pay for the contraception. Similar programs were attempted in Oregon and Washington State but have been discontinued.

Written by Andrea McCarren

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