The Freedom From Religion Foundation cautiously commends the passage of a South Carolina bill that allows women to purchase birth control pills at a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription. South Carolina joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding access to contraceptives.
However, it’s important to note that while South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster has supported this measure in an attempt to “avoid unwanted pregnancies,” he is also firmly anti-abortion. McMaster recently said that he is in favor of a total abortion ban with no exceptions. So while expanding access to contraception is important, it should be done in tandem with abortion access — not restrictions or bans.
Comprehensive reproductive health care should never be an either/or situation. Contraception, abortion care, sex education, sterilization and other reproductive health care procedures are all requisites for reproductive liberty.
Contraception is a vital component of reproductive health care. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists explains that barriers contribute to inconsistent use or discourage nonuse of contraception. Guttmacher Institute affirms that “pharmacy access” laws are safe and effective. Pharmacist-provided contraception is an important step to reducing barriers, with over-the-counter contraception access as the ultimate goal. And with nearly 65 percent of the 72.2 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 using contraception, this access is especially necessary — but not necessarily enough.
“Abortion care is health care, and should never be used as a bargaining chip for contraceptive access,” says Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “Comprehensive reproductive health care free from religious interference is a human right.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with over 36,000 members across the country, including hundreds in South Carolina. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.