NY pharmacists can now offer birth control without prescriptions, Hochul says

NEW YORK — New York will permit pharmacists to provide contraceptives without requiring prescriptions under an order approved Tuesday, Gov. Hochul’s office said.

The state health commissioner, Dr. James McDonald, signed the order, which was effective immediately. The four-page order essentially serves as a pharmacist’s prescription for the whole state, according to the governor’s office.

The directive covers oral hormonal contraceptives, hormonal contraceptive vaginal rings and hormonal contraceptive patches.

“This is a big moment for women of New York,” Hochul, the first woman to serve as New York’s governor, said in a news conference at an Albany pharmacy.

“Starting today, any woman walking into a New York State pharmacy will be able purchase birth control — the best birth control method that meets her needs,” said the governor, a Democrat. “It’s a new era.”

She suggested the move would have particular value for women who live in areas with limited access to doctors.

Last year, the federal Food and Drug Administration authorized the first birth control pill for nonprescription use in the U.S.

Hochul has made expanding reproductive freedoms a priority of her administration after the Supreme Court erased the federal right to abortion in 2022. Most Americans supported the national abortion right, according to polling, and Democrats across the nation are aiming to center reproductive in the November elections.

“This is deeply personal to me as a mother and a woman,” Hochul said. “I want to make sure that New York remains a sanctuary for all levels of care for women.”

The order applies to New Yorkers as well as visitors to the state, McDonald said. Customers will be able to get up to a year’s supply, he added.

“If you come to New York, and you want to have contraception, I’ve issued a prescription for you,” he said. “For this role, I’ve become your doctor. As the state’s physician, this is something I’m very comfortable with.”