LANSING, Mich. — Today Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that pharmacists in the State of Michigan are eligible to prescribe hormonal birth control in partnership with doctors. This action from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA) offers women easier access to birth control and provides them greater freedom to plan their families. It is the result of the governor’s executive directive in May instructing state departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care in anticipation of Roe v. Wade being overturned.
“Today’s action clarifies that Michigan pharmacists with delegated authority can prescribe self-administered hormonal birth control—oral contraceptives, the patch, and the ring—expanding access to birth control for women across Michigan and ensuring that they can plan their own future on their own terms,” said Governor Whitmer. “As reproductive freedom is under attack across the nation, we are using every tool in our toolbox here in Michigan to protect women. Access to birth control is critical to a woman’s ability to plan her family and chart her own destiny. We are taking action to guarantee that Michigan women have the right to easily make reproductive health care decisions that are best for them.”
“This expansion allows for broader access to certain forms of birth control,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Chief Medical Executive of the State of Michigan. “Nearly 30% of U.S. women of childbearing age have reported difficulty obtaining or refilling birth control prescriptions. Expanded access to hormonal contraceptives provides flexibility for women to manage their reproductive health outside their regularly scheduled health care appointments.”
Guidelines on Self-Administered Hormonal Birth Control
Under a new interpretative statement issued by LARA, licensed physicians may delegate to pharmacists the ability to prescribe self-administered, hormonal contraceptives in most circumstances. Pharmacists are well-qualified to prescribe oral contraceptives, the patch, and the ring because their education and training includes a detailed understanding of the contents, impacts, and effects of drugs on the human body.
Today’s statement clarifies eligibility for pharmacists, making it easier for women to access hormonal contraception and providing a template agreement to make the delegation easier. The action allows pharmacists to opt into this program and does not require pharmacists to prescribe hormonal contraception if they do not want to.
LARA encourages all physicians and pharmacists to review their individual circumstances and practices and speak with their respective attorneys to ensure that adequate procedures and drug protocols are provided and the scope of delegation is appropriate under the circumstances. Additionally, LARA’s Bureau of Professional Licensing staff will review prescription and dispensing practices during their routine pharmacy inspections and investigate any violations of Michigan’s Public Health Code.
Governor Whitmer’s Reproductive Health Executive Directive
Governor Whitmer’s executive directive 2022-05 instructed departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
State of Michigan departments and agencies must also have identified and assessed potential opportunities to increase protections for reproductive health care, consistent with applicable law. They must have detailed how they can increase choices available to protect mental, physical, and reproductive health; safeguard the privacy of individuals seeking care; and assure the safety of reproductive healthcare providers.
Additionally, departments and agencies that communicate directly with the public on reproductive issues must have provided accessible, comprehensive information about the current cost and availability of reproductive care and increase public awareness about the availability and safety of contraception.
Governor Whitmer’s Abortion Lawsuit
In April, Governor Whitmer filed a lawsuit and used the authority of the Executive Message to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s Constitution protects the right to abortion. Governor Whitmer’s legal action represents the first time a governor has filed a lawsuit to protect a woman’s right to abortion since the U.S. Supreme Court signaled its willingness to consider overturning or circumscribing the federal right to an abortion.
The lawsuit asks the court to recognize a constitutional right to an abortion under the Due Process Clause of the Michigan Constitution. It also asks the court to stop enforcement of the 1931 Michigan abortion ban. The abortion ban violates Michigan’s due process clause, which provides a right to privacy and bodily autonomy that is violated by the state’s near-total criminal ban of abortion. It also violates Michigan’s Equal Protection Clause due to the way the ban denies women equal rights because the law was adopted to reinforce antiquated notions of the proper role for women in society.
Governor Whitmer’s Actions to Protect Reproductive Freedom
- April 7: Filed a lawsuit to ask the Michigan Supreme Court to immediately resolve whether Michigan’s constitution protects the right to an abortion.
- April 7: Penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press explaining her action and highlighting that 7 in 10 Michiganders support the rights affirmed by Roe.
- May 3: Joined 16 other states to urge the United States Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act and enshrine Roe’s protections in federal law.
- May 9: Penned an op-ed in the New York Times explaining why she isn’t waiting for Congress to act and urging fellow pro-choice governors, state representatives, private businesses, and citizens to take action to protect reproductive rights.
- May 25: Signed an executive directive instructing state of Michigan departments and agencies to identify and assess opportunities to increase protections for reproductive healthcare, such as contraception. The executive directive also instructs departments not to cooperate with or assist authorities of any state in any investigation or proceeding against anyone for obtaining, providing, or assisting someone else to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare that is legal where the health care is provided.
- June 23: Launched a new consumer website to educate Michiganders about the availability of no-cost contraception with most insurance plans.
- June 24: On the day of the Dobbs decision, filed a motion urging the Court to immediately consider her lawsuit.
- June 27: Followed up with an additional notice to the Court urging them to immediately consider her lawsuit.
- June 29: Sent a letter to Michigan’s insurers urging them to take steps to ensure Michiganders have coverage for reproductive health care to the fullest extent possible under current coverage.
- July 6: Joined with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to launch a public effort to educate Michiganders and health care providers about the difference between emergency contraception and medication abortion. The public effort will disseminate information about the differences between medication abortion and emergency contraception to all local health departments throughout Michigan, healthcare providers throughout the state, and the public.
- July 7: Called on the federal government to clarify and protect Michiganders’ right to cross the US-Canada border to seek reproductive health care or prescription medication including medication abortion.
- July 11: Urged President Biden to make birth control available over the counter without a prescription.
- July 13: Signed an executive order refusing to extradite women or health care providers who come to Michigan seeking reproductive freedom.
- July 22: Called on FDA to reduce barriers to medication abortion.
- August 1: Secured a restraining order blocking certain county prosecutors from enforcing the 1931 abortion ban after a court cleared a path for them to do so earlier on the same day.
- August 3: Went to court to defend the restraining order and won.
- August 4: Filed renewed request with Michigan Supreme Court to protect right to abortion.
- August 4: Submitted legal brief to prevent enforcement of extreme 1931 abortion ban.
- August 10: Filed motion for a preliminary injunction against 1931 abortion ban in Oakland County Circuit Court.
- August 19: Won a preliminary injunction against the 1931 abortion ban, protecting legal abortion in Michigan until the Michigan Supreme Court takes up the governor’s lawsuit or Michiganders vote to protect women’s fundamental rights.
- August 29: Expanded access to birth control to 200,000 Michiganders covered by MPSERS non-Medicare plans.
- August 31: Called on big tech to protect data and digital privacy in light of report of law enforcement using personal health data to go after women seeking reproductive care.
Source: Press Release