A South Carolina House panel on Wednesday advanced a bill that offers expanded birth control options for women.
According to The State newspaper, the health and environmental affairs subcommittee voted in favor of a proposal that requires insurers cover a women’s ability to get a year’s worth of birth control at one time. The measure passed despite the the objections of the South Carolina Alliance of Health Plans, which warned against requiring insurers to cover a year’s worth of drugs.
The panel also approved language that would allow women to get birth control refills for up to three years before they need to go back to the doctor for a new prescription.
According to the newspaper, Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network Chief Executive Ann Warner testified that having to refill birth-control prescriptions each month can be a hardship for women who lack transportation, live in rural areas or have busy schedules.
The panel did not advance a separate proposal by State Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, to make birth control more accessible by allowing pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives. Several doctors voiced concerns that prescribing contraceptives can be too long and drawn-out to be done while waiting in a pharmacy line.
House members replaced that proposal with one that would require a prescription from a doctor to get birth control.
The health panel is dominated by Democratic House members, so it’s not clear if the Republican-controlled chamber will support both bills. However, the measure approved Wednesday was sponsored by a Republican State Rep. Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia.